Amy and I finally start talking on the phone. None of our conversations go very well. Her tone is cold and emotionless. I try to remain calm. If I start to escalate in the least degree, she just hangs up on me. I get hung up on a lot. It drives me batty. I go down swinging every time I try and convince her to come back.
Two very dear friends come to visit me one evening. I try my hardest to act sane and normal. I fail miserably. They are more than alarmed. They are disturbed at what they witness. They leave feeling it is not safe for Amy or the kids to return. I actually think the visit went well.
Well-meaning people label me a narcissist. Some tell Amy of their “diagnosis.” She actually doesn’t believe that’s true about me. But, that’s the lens many trying to help view me through. It’s not at all helpful. No doubt I’m out of my mind, but there are other explanations for my behavior.
I digress to the point where I honestly can’t tell if I’m suicidal or not. I don’t trust myself, especially when it gets dark, and I’m alone. At my request, a friend takes me to the hospital. They ask me if I’ve had any thoughts of suicide.
I make a huge mistake. I tell them I’ve had thoughts, but it’s not something I’ve seriously considered.
It’s like red sirens go off. The hospital has a protocol I guess if someone even hints at having a suicidal thought.
They hurry and put me on a hospital bed in the hallway (because there are no rooms open). A worker comes and has to sit right next to me and monitor every move I make. I’m not allowed to get up or go anywhere. It feels like I’ve been taken, hostage.
The next thing I know, I’m in an ambulance on my way to a psych ward. I agree to go because the name of the place isn’t “The Psych Ward.” It’s some deceptive, pleasant sounding name!
Oh my goodness! It is just as it’s depicted in the movies. I’m surrounded by people who are permanently, authentically psychotic. It’s an extremely sad, depressing place.
One guy runs full speed down the hall right into a wall. He gets up and does it again knocking himself out.
Another one is about 5’5. He tells me he’s Kobe Bryant’s son and was the first pick in the NBA draft. I actually upset him because I ask him questions he can’t answer about the draft. I then tell him he’s not Kobe Bryant’s son, and he was never drafted or played in the NBA. I just level with the guy.
The workers have to tell me to stop upsetting the other patients.
One dude cut off one of his body parts because “Satan told me to do it.” I tell him to stop listening to Satan.
I can’t believe what I’ve subjected myself to. This place is actually making me suicidal.
Meanwhile, Amy somehow finds out I’ve “checked myself in.” I score some points with her…but, not for long. I last a day and a half before I demand to leave.
I talk to one of my church leaders over the phone and he tells me that Amy said if I leave, she’s going to divorce me. I tell him that’s her choice, but I’m not staying in this place another second. It’s that bad! The doctors/workers gang up on me trying to convince me to stay.
I win, and my friend comes and picks me up. I never felt saner in my life than when I was in that place. And, I wasn’t sane! Now, I’m just more traumatized!
It’s the day before Mother’s Day, and I’m at home alone. I call everyone I can think of and no one responds.
I have a not-so-good conversation with Amy.
The phone is causing me too much pain. I throw it on the guest room’s bed and leave it there for 24 hours. I end up lying on the floor upstairs all the rest of the day and night. I have my earplugs in so I can’t hear anything.
Sometime the next day, Mother’s Day, I remember my phone and go grab it. I’m shocked to see I have 80+ missed calls and 60+ text messages. They’re almost all from my wife. I read through them. By the last one, she’s in a full-throttle panic. She thinks I committed suicide because I’m unresponsive to her calls and text messages. She also sent some of my friends over to the house. They bang on the door and look in the windows and see nothing.
They report to her that the house is dark and there is no sign of any movement inside. They tell her it doesn’t look good.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, she spends most of Mother’s Day sobbing uncontrollably, thinking she is going to have to tell our kids that their dad is dead.
As soon as I finish reading her texts, I send her a short text message so she knows I’m alive.
I simply type from my phone, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
Immediately, she calls. She sounds horrible. I can tell she’s been crying. I’ve reassured her umpteen times that I’m NOT going to kill myself. Still, she convinced herself I did. She says she wants to punch me and hug me at the same time.
We have a long, productive conversation. It concludes with her agreeing to fly out for a week to see how it goes. A dear friend pays for her plane ticket and she flies out the next day…against everyone’s advice.
We actually have a good week. In fact, it goes well enough for Amy to agree to come back with the kids within a month (as soon as school is out).
After she flies out, I borrow money from a friend and see a local doctor. He prescribes me small doses of my medication. My withdrawals end, and I feel better.
Because I’m stupid, I run out a week early, the day before Amy gets back with all the kids.
By the time my family returns, I’m back into the acute stages of withdrawal. I’m convinced I can force myself to function normally. I can’t, and the first week my family gets back, I’m unable to do much to help. It appears I haven’t changed at all, that I was only nice to get the family back, and now I’m back to my old self. I don’t have the heart to tell Amy I ran out of my medication.
It’s Sunday afternoon, June 15, 2015. It’s about a week after my family returns. A day before I get my refill on my medication. Amy has been withdrawing from me and acting like she regrets coming back. I’m trying my hardest, but it doesn’t translate into normal functioning.
I engage her. She doesn’t want to talk and walks upstairs. I follow her into our master bathroom.
Things escalate. Before I know what I’m doing, I, of course, snap. Voices are raised.
I throw my cell phone in her direction; I miss her on purpose. A bathroom mirror on the counter falls to the floor. Before Amy can pick it up, I kick it and the glass breaks. Amy tries to leave the room and I stand in front of her (blocking her from leaving) and try to convince her to stay. I never physically touch her. As soon as I realize she is determined to leave, I step aside and let her walk out unimpeded.
I sit down on the bed absolutely mortified, again, at what I just did. As always these days, I couldn’t stop myself. After several minutes, I hear men’s voices downstairs. I don’t even have to wonder. I know it’s the police.
I calmly start walking down the stairs and about halfway down the stairs shown in the picture below, I just sit down on a step and wait.
The officers are outside the front door talking with Amy. One of the officers walks in and asks me my name and if I’m her husband. I respond that I am. He asks me what happened. I’m open and honest. He tells me that my story matches Amy’s.
Then, come the words out of his mouth, “Sir, you are under arrest…”
I don’t remember anything he says after that. He cuffs me. Walks me out of my house and past my wife.
I turn and look my wife in the eyes. She looks serious and satisfied. I turn away.
Little do I know at the time that I would never step foot in that house again, ever. To this day, I’ve never even driven by it.
The cop puts me in the back of his SUV. I’m calm and resigned. The entire ride to the jail is silent. I don’t say a word; I don’t ask any questions.
When we arrive, I’m escorted into a room with a table and two chairs. After waiting a while, the cop comes in with a voice recorder. He asks if I want an attorney. I tell him no, I don’t need one (BIG time rookie mistake). I’m charged with 3 misdemeanors.
1. Disorderly Conduct
2. Criminal Damage (for breaking the mirror)
3. Unlawful Imprisonment (for initially standing in front of Amy when she wanted to leave the room)
Two of the three charges would be dropped (2 & 3).
He turns the recorder on and asks me to relay again what happened. I confess all the details (BIG time rookie mistake #2).
After we’re finished and we do some paperwork, the cop tells me they have to keep me overnight, but that the judge will probably release me in the morning. He escorts me to a jail cell and locks me in.
There’s a concrete block bed with a paper thin pad on top. That’s it.
Time slows way down. It’s a long, dreadful evening, night, and next morning.
It’s an interesting experience being locked up in a cell with nothing to do and no one to talk to. Just 3 concrete walls and jail bars.
Every kind of thought imaginable goes through my mind. I assume my wife seeing me cuffed and hauled away softens her heart toward me. I plan out what I’m going to do and say the next morning when I’m released. I think things will be better once I get my refill.
Finally, morning comes. An officer arrives at my cell and escorts me to a larger one with several other people waiting to go before the judge.
I start getting really anxious. I can’t wait to get out of this place.
One of the officers walks up and calls out my name. He has some papers with him. He unlocks the cell door and invites me out. He walks me around the corner. I start feeling encouraged. I’m thinking he’s holding my release papers.
I’m way, way wrong.
He proceeds to serve me an Order of Protection…from Amy! Listed on it is every member of my family, my home address and even the church we go to. I can’t call, write, see, or come in the vicinity of any. The restraining order is for a minimum period of 1 year.
I’ll never forget the moment I’m shown the Order of Protection. All the blood leaves my brain. I feel like I’m going to fall over. The force is like a shotgun blast to my chest.
The officer walks me back to the cell and locks me back in. I slide down in the corner and read what Amy wrote on the Order of Protection. My first thought is anyone who reads this would think I’m a monster. She holds no punches.
I now have two restraining orders against me. One cutting me off from my livelihood and once closest friend. The other cutting me off from every member of my family and my home.
I’ve been in shock before, but nothing like this.
After what seems like forever, my name is called to go before the judge. The judge reads my charges. I plan on pleading guilty. She never asks me. She tells me she’s entering a plea of not-guilty and informs me we’ll meet back in 9 days. She explains she’s giving me the 9 days to get an attorney and formulate a plea deal. My bail is set at $500.
She clarifies that I’m being held for 9 more days. I’m going nowhere.
Nine days is beyond my ability to fathom at the time. To me, it seems like a life sentence.
After I see the judge, they lock me back up with everyone else. I’m informed that if I don’t post bail within the next couple of hours, I’m going to be transported to the 4th avenue jail.
I listen to everyone in my cell tell one horror story after another about that place. I try calling everyone I can think of using the phone in the cell. No one picks up.
I call every bail bondsman I can and none will help me without me pledging collateral first.
I finally can no longer think straight. I just sit and brace myself for what’s coming. I can’t process what’s happening. It feels like there’s been a massive mix up, and I’m all of a sudden living someone else’s life.
What I’m about to experience is a world I could have never imagined. It’s an underworld that no one in the real world consciously knows exists. It’s not the land of the living. It’s a place that is impossible to describe or convey to someone who hasn’t lived there.
Infamous, Joe Arpaio, is the Sherrif. I’m being sent to the worst jail in all of America. I feel utterly and completely alone, abandoned, and discarded. Father’s Day is only in a week, and my children are and will be fatherless.
In my mind, what Amy writes on the protective order is a clear indication that our marriage is over.
I can’t imagine she would have written the things she does unless her intent is to ruin me for good.
I have no choice but to sit there in stunned silence and feel the searing pain and torture of it all until I’m chained and put in a transport vehicle that will take me to the real jail.