There I was standing next to my husband-to-be, our wedding being officiated by a minister who got his credentials via the Internet.
This was not the poofy white princess dress wedding I'd dreamed of. Only a couple of his friends were there and none of mine were. I didn't even invite my mother to my wedding.
I met him very briefly at a party, through a friend of a friend, and honestly didn't know much about him at all. I gave him my number, even though he lived 9 hours away. I had become very ill and had to quit my job, which meant I had way too much time to talk to Mike and sort of get to know him. After about a month of talking on the phone, we decided I should visit him. He told me his car had just been totaled so he couldn't make the trip or meet me somewhere halfway. (I would later find out there never was a car.)
I can't say what it was about him because honestly I don't know, but after our week together, I decided to move in with him. Yes, move in with someone that I'd only been talking to for a month. I think part of it was I wasn't sure what else to do. I was in my late 20s and felt a bit lost. I'd given up a great job when I got sick and didn't want to live at home.
About two weeks later, I was all packed and on my way with my cat, Lilith. I was optimistic that this was going to be a good change. The thing we had most in common was being really into New Age things, such as spell work, meditation, runes and tarot. He told me that he co-owned a New Age store and I had no reason to not believe him since he was there all the time and taught classes and led the meditation sessions four times a week.
He also seemed to have quite the following of groupies, 99% women, some whom stopped coming to meditation because they learned he now had a live-in girlfriend. He was also a Reiki master and performed healings, so I thought he should be able to pay bills or at least his half of them. Thankfully I got a job the week I moved there because soon he was asking me for money.
That should have been a big red flag, but he explained that since his store was relatively new, it wasn't quite in the black yet. He assured they were doing well and would soon be making money. I would drop him off at the store on my way to work in the mornings, give him lunch money, and then either pick him up on my way home from work or stay at the store while the various meditations, classes or healings were performed.
The co-owner of the store was almost always there on those nights and would give him cash on occasion, which I thought was his share of any profits. I would later find out Mike didn't own any of the store -- he only worked there.
During this time, I didn't have insurance so I was not on the anti-depressants I relied on. Mike had me convinced that I didn't need to be on medication and that I only had to go within myself and use my power to heal myself. What I didn't know was that I was bipolar and in a manic state when Mike asked me to marry him. He did his best to push me into it and kept telling me that he knew we were supposed to be together, so why wait? I said yes.
We got married a month after I moved there and I didn't tell anyone until after the fact. I should have known that I didn't want to tell my mom because it wasn't the right thing for me. When I did finally tell her, she was very disappointed that I hadn't told her and she called him a "silver-tongued devil." This really was one of those times I should have listened to my mom.
Once we were married, things changed. I was his now and he started to assert this by being verbally abusive. Then he started to be physically abusive, pinning me against walls or the bed when I would question him about things. For some reason I still thought I should try to make this marriage work. I also thought I could change him, and that if I could just get him to love me more he would treat me better. He'd isolated me from my friends and family.
The abuse got worse the more he thought he was losing me. He collected swords and knives and was also a black belt in karate. I was scared of him. I would wake up in the middle of the night to find him holding a sword held to my throat while he told me all the things he would do to me if I ever left him.
I knew I had to get out, and finally started going to a therapist for abused women. At one of my sessions, I looked out the window to see him crossing the street. I was so scared he would see my car and know that I was going to see her. Thankfully, she gave me the strength to tell my friends and family what was going on.
After four months of marriage, I moved out. I took a suitcase full of things and went to stay with a friend. He was not happy when he got home and found the letter I left that I wouldn't be staying there anymore. I got many phone calls and threats that first week. Then he changed to being so sweet and telling me how much he loved me. Yeah, rent was due on the apartment and he had no way of paying it.
Shortly after leaving, I had to go to get some things from the apartment. The organization I worked for was having a black-tie event and I needed to retrieve a dress. I decided since I was running late it would be easier just to get ready there instead of trying to get my things, go back to my friend's and get ready. I brought in a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew that I'd only taken a sip from and left it on the table while I showered and got ready.
When I was leaving, he told me that the cat had knocked over my drink and that's why it was all fizzy. I didn't think anything of it until I was on my way to the event and took a drink. There was bleach in my drink and not just a little, a lot.
I was in such disbelief I took another sip to again taste and smell bleach. I took the drink into the event with me and had some friends and co-workers smell it. Yep, there was definitely bleach in it.
The next day I went and got all of my things. I never wanted to see him again. Unfortunately, I hadn't given thought to our bank account. The next day it was drained, and because both our names were on it there wasn't anything I could do about it.
I filed for divorce. He said he would contest it and never sign the papers I confronted him about putting bleach in my drink. To this day he swears he didn't do it, but I'm pretty sure my cat wasn't trying to poison me. I kept begging him to please just sign the papers so we could be done. He told me he was moving and I wouldn't know where he was so I'd never be able to get a divorce.
I finally convinced him with a carton of cigarettes to sign the papers. When we went to the court house, there was a line to file them. He started to cry and put on a big show that he didn't want us to get divorced and how much he loved me. I told him, loudly, that he should have thought about that before he tried to kill me. That shut him up and caused the people in the office to give him many evil eyes.
The day in court was very simple. Since Mike had signed the papers, he didn't have to show up. The judge asked why I wanted a divorce and I told him I'd been abused and he granted it right away. I literally felt like skipping my way back to my car. I would never have to ever deal with Mike again. We were married for seven months.
A month after the divorce was final I got a letter asking me to appear on "Divorce Court." I had that framed and hanging in my house for a long time as a joke. The last time I heard from him, he sent me an email asking me for the date our divorce was final because he had gotten a girl pregnant and was going to marry her and needed the information for the marriage certificate. I would have been happy to give him the information had he not ended the email with “And don't be a bitch about it.” I emailed him back to tell him it was public record and to have fun looking it up.
I definitely blame a huge part of all this on the fact that my bipolar disorder was not in check. I was in a manic phase and my thought process was not rational. It's one of the events I told my psychiatrist about that helped her diagnose me.
Twelve years later, I'm remarried with a beautiful 2 ½ year old daughter and can laugh about the whole thing. One of my friends and I played a round of whatever happened to and we looked him up on Facebook. Seems he's up to his same old ways and has another following of women who look up to him as some sort of guru. He must have some mad charisma because he has a lot of people fooled.
I'm just glad I made it out alive.