WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to the men and women at Pearl Harbor on that fateful morning in December 1941, July 14, 2004, is my own personal, “day that will live in infamy.”
Fateful Days: My Story
One of the most fateful days of my life began with a long drive to Adam’s Boy Scout camp. Beth and I both drove up – separately – to bring Adam home. She got there first and was sitting at one end of the campsite when I arrived. I sat at the other end of the campsite. I’m not sure how many acres the Boy Scouts occupied in Northwestern New Jersey; all I know is the camp wasn’t big enough for both of us. I couldn’t have cut the tension with a knife – no matter how many Boy Scout badges I might have earned for completing the task. I’m not sure if Adam notices his parents weren’t sitting together, but when it was time to leave, Adam drove home with Beth.
Once we got home I told Beth she should take Adam out to dinner, and I would take him out tomorrow night. Jared wasn’t coming home from Florida for another few days. But Beth had Adam invite me to dinner and a movie with them. Unbelievable! I told Adam to go with Mom and come with me tomorrow night. He didn’t like it but said okay.
I did things around the house all day – doing my best to stay busy and avoid Beth. She wasn’t hard to avoid. Beth spent most of the day in her room whispering into the phone. I didn’t care whom she talked to or what she said. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I started caring when I heard Beth telling my brother, Steve, her version of why we’re getting divorced. As a public service, she also told him what his brother “is really like.” Most of what she said wasn’t true. But if Beth wanted to get under my skin she succeeded. When Beth handed the phone to Adam, I told her if she continued telling my family one lie after another, I’d make sure they never talked to her again. She’d been threatening to come between the kids and me for a year and a half. Two can play that game right?
Wrong. Big mistake. Beth screamed that if I cut her off from my family, she would cut the kids, especially Adam, off from them. And me.
Then for good measure, Beth screamed about every slight, every indignity, real or imagined, from our entire 16-year marriage. The line between fact and fiction disappeared. Adam was talking to Steve and Jared from the next room. He shut his door so he wouldn’t have to hear his Mom’s screaming. But Beth was determined and loud. She wanted Adam to hear everything. Nothing was too personal or inappropriate for an 11-year-old boy. She wanted Adam to hate me. And she was just warming up.
I heard Adam crying so I went into his room. I was too late. He blamed me for the divorce. Beth obviously had talked to him without me. When I tried calming Adam down, Beth threw more fuel on the fire. She physically got between Adam and me and wouldn’t let me near him. Beth threatened to call the police if I touched Adam.
Beth told Adam to come to sleep with her in her bed. In the blink of an eye, my life had become a grotesque circus worthy of The Jerry Springer Show. I imagined the promo. “Next on Jerry Springer, Mom pulls son into bed to keep Dad away.”
A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation by Michael Jeffires and Dr. Joel Davies. Published by A Family’s Heartbreak, LLC. www.afamilysheartbreak.com
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