Carrie: How Could You?
Carrie and Joe were college sweethearts who made a picture-perfect family. They worked and saved to pay for their kids’ sports, vacations, and everything in between. Then, after over a decade of marriage, Carrie stumbled upon the secret that compromised everything they built. Carrie shares with Stephanie how her husband’s betrayal left her with absolutely nothing – not a roof over her head, or answers from her life partner about why he deceived her.
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Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Carrie
Something inside me said, go look through his stuff. I don’t know why I can’t explain it to this day, something said, go to his office and look through stuff.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 00:17
It’s 2019 and Carrie is standing outside her husband’s office. The doorway is the only thing separating her from the completely normal life she knows, and a secret that will ruin everything.
Got to bed and slept next to me every night like everything was fine and normal. Like how could I not have seen it? How could I have been so stupid? I have a doctorate For fuck sake. How did I not see this happening right in front of my face.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 01:01
This is LAST DAY, a show about the moments that change us. I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs. And today, we have one of the most egregious stories of betrayal you might ever hear. It’s the story of being deceived, manipulated, and swindled by the one person in the world, who vowed to love you forever, how you continue to put one foot in front of the other and start over with nothing.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 01:39
Carrie met Joe when she was in graduate school studying to get her doctorate in veterinary medicine. And just a few years later, in 2006, they got married.
At the beginning, it was I think what anyone would describe their marriage partner. You know, I felt like I had a teammate. I knew I wanted to have children with him. We didn’t see eye to eye on everything. But we had what I thought was good communication. And I loved him. He was fun. Everyone likes hanging out with him. So he was just like a normal guy. Just, that’s how I can best describe it.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 02:17
Like a good guy.
A good guy. Yeah, he was good to his mom, you know, had a relationship with both of his parents liked animals like I did. And, you know, he just seemed like, a good, good person.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 02:34
These two good people fall in love and eventually start a family. Four years after getting married, Carrie gives birth to their daughter. And four years later, their son, Carrie describes Jo as a doting dad, someone who often had more patience for the kids than she did. It was a good balance. But like she said, they didn’t always see eye to eye.
I am the kind of person that I mean, some people would say overly opinionated if I have a thought if I have a feeling. Let’s just put it out there. Now I want to talk about it now. And I always would joke that Joe had two sides, there was normal Joe, and there was like, unhappy slash angry, and not a lot of range in the emotional field, at least not that he would show. And so if there was ever a disagreement, I would say, I’d like to talk about this. And Joe would be time. But that time always turned into stretching it out so far that then I’d say okay, it’s been three days. We talked about this. Now, I don’t remember what it was about is that would be his response. So something like avoidant things, saying when he he needed time to focus on something, but then in the long run, really just avoiding the discussion. And I would say that was not as major at the beginning, but it was still there. Right. And I think it just grew larger over time.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 04:02
Joseph Boyden communication style aside, Carrie and Joe had a pretty typical marriage, and they were able to provide a comfortable life for their kids. Carrie had her accomplished, yet demanding career as a bet. And Joe, meanwhile, worked in the business world, sometimes for global corporations.
From the outside, we look like a very typical family. You know, we were friends with other families. We had couples friends that we hung out with a lot. Everyone thought we were fun. Everyone thought we had a good marriage. I had a friend that said, Oh, I wish I had a marriage like yours. I mean, there were ups and downs. I mean, every marriage has it your marriage you get it. It’s hard work to maintain a long term relationship, whether that’s romantic or otherwise it takes effort, but I feel like overall outwardly we appeared to be a pretty normal run of the mill family of four.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 04:59
In 2014 In the family moves to a different state. So Joe can work at an even bigger company.
You know, he was the primary breadwinner, especially since I wanted to be home halftime. So my income was more ancillary. And so the, our first big move was for a career move for him. And that one was, was hard for me it was right after my son was born. And I really loved where we were living. And I had a really good community of friends and colleagues that were, we didn’t have family nearby, so they felt like my chosen family. So that was a really difficult move for me. And I don’t admit, I had a bad attitude about it for a bit. And then, you know, I finally snapped out of it and said, a place is what you make of it, this is your new home, you know, make it work, you can choose to be unhappy, or you can choose to make this work. Where I was at that point in my life was, I can pick up my career at any time, his career is allowing me to have some time with these kids. And I’m never gonna get these years back. So, you know, it’s okay to take a backseat for a little bit.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 06:10
Carrie starts to cut back on her hours at work to spend more time with the kids until eventually she decides to stay home altogether. Then in 2017, Carrie starts to notice a shift in Joe, he seems stressed and preoccupied, less engaged with her and the kids. It’s a subtle change in behavior that only she as his spouse would pick up on. She doesn’t exactly know what’s happening. And as we know, he can be pretty avoidant. So she tries to get to the bottom of it in a different way.
His mom had gotten sick, and his behavior changed sort of around that time. So I thought he’s worried about his mom, our relationship with her at that point seems sort of strained on top of it, which was not the norm. I remember calling his brother once and saying, I need you know, can you reach out to Joe? Because something’s off? I don’t know, if he’s anxious or depressed or worried about your mom? Or? Or what? He won’t really speak to me, you know, Has he said anything to you? Can you, you know, any insights there. And, you know, he followed up as I asked him to, and show just basically said, Oh, I’m just stressed with work. And yeah, worried about mom. And, you know, there was excuses and reasons given, there was always some type of feasible explanation. And hindsight, I doubted the explanation, but not enough to challenge it at the time.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 07:49
At this point, Joe is the sole breadwinner in the family and handling pretty much all of the finances, while Carrie continues to focus her energy at home.
We had been kind of on the same page, kind of CO managing finances. And when our kids were born, I don’t know, for some reason, something shifted to me, and it stressed me out and he’s like, it doesn’t stress me out, I’ll take care of it. So I kind of passed that baton to him. As many, you know, relationships are someone each of you divide and conquer your tasks. And so I would call him and say like, the car just got to class. He’s like, Oh, I think we’ve got some fraud on it. And you know, that I then suddenly it would work. Or I would go to try to log into our bank account, and I couldn’t get in. And, you know, he would always be the ones that call and try to figure out what was going on. And like, there’s a problem with the website, and you would forward me emails showing me like, here’s where I talked to the banker, and they’re trying to get this fixed, and they’re gonna pay us a fee for the inconvenience. And my remember my mom’s saying, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would they pay you instead of just fixing it? And I was like, Well, it’s because it’s been going on for so long. It’s taking a while for them to figure it out. I mean, even statements, you know, this was the time where everyone was starting to do online statements. And so statements didn’t really come to our house anymore for anything. And we always had the Postal Service informed delivery, and you get an email every morning telling you what’s coming in the mail that day. And I this is one of the things that still bothers me to this day used to always tell me don’t check the mail today, I got you a present. It’s gonna be there. And hindsight, because then a couple of weeks, I’d be like, Whatever happened to that present? Oh, I know. You wouldn’t like it. I sent it back. And I think he would see what was getting delivered that day and it’d be something he didn’t want me to see. And so he would tell me there was a present for me, and sometimes there was there was presence enough that it was believable, right. So here I think my sweet husband is getting me a gift. It’s not my birthday. It’s not our anniversary. There’s some special occasion. Who am I to doubt him?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 10:01
Was there any worry like a voice in your head or in your gut? That was like, I think this is it like, did you think he was having an affair? Did you think he was like, did you have suspicions of anything?
I never worried about an affair. I did a couple times wonder just because of the account things if it was money. And then I would again, always doubt myself because bank statements would be presented other things that would, were supposed to squash my fears. You know, when I would say I can’t log into this over here, here’s this Oh, okay. Again, I tend to be a pretty think things into the ground, anxious person about some things. And so once I would get those explanations, I would then turn around on myself, like, you’re just a worry, or you worry about everything. Like, what should I worry about, because I don’t have anything that happened today, I will go into my minds into the dredges of my brain. And I will find something to ruminate on and ruin my day over. And so I think it was very easy to tell myself, everything’s fine, you’re looking for a problem, stop trying to make things difficult when they don’t have to be. He knew me better than anyone else. He knew how anxious I got about things. And so, you know, I don’t know if it was ever purposeful or just was easy to fall into place. But I was a very easy person to kind of let their anxieties take care of a lot of the hiding.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 11:43
By July of 2019, Carrie Jo, and the kids relocate again, this time, from the South to the Midwest for Joe’s job. After the cross country move, the family is finally getting settled into their new place.
Kids started back to school at the end of August. And Joe was working at an office in this city, but also work from home Sundays, which was lovely, because we could go grab lunch together before the kids got off the bus and I was getting the house in order. At the time, I believed that we were renting a home that had been flipped by a company and they had said, Hey, we weren’t prepared to buy when we moved there, but it was kind of a rent to own situation. So they were gonna give us permission to make changes in the house and do what we wanted. Or so I thought,
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 12:36
since they were permitted to make renovations, Carrie and Joe decided to remodel the walk in closet and the primary bedroom. Joe tells Carrie, he’s made an appointment for the contractors to stop by in October, the day of their anniversary.
Took down the existing closet, took everything out all the clothes, all of the hardware, everything and put it into the spare room. And he said we should go to breakfast for our anniversary because there’ll be here to do the closet and the afternoon. I said perfect. So we get the kids off to school, go to breakfast, come home, he goes to his office and comes back a little bit later and says bad news. They went to pick up all the stuff for the closet and they they cut it in the wrong color. So they’re not gonna be able to install today. Like, well, that sucks, you know, all of our stuffs laying out what are we going to do? And well, they’re going to talk about when they can get back out here. They’re going to give us a big discount since this is a big inconvenience. There going to be in touch with me. Okay. So the next day, well, they’ve got a couple of really big projects they’re working on this week. It might be next week before they can get it done. But they’re they’re gonna give us a really big discount. Next day. Have you heard from them? Yeah, they’re not able to do it this week. It’ll be sometime next week.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 13:57
The closet renovation keeps getting pushed back further and further until November rolls around.
And the following week, I had a trip planned with a couple of girlfriends. I was trying to pack with all my stuff piled in giant piles. And so the day before I was supposed to leave for my trip, I thought we’ve used these people before and had no problems. I’m going to call myself. And so he was gone that day in the office. And I called and I said hi such and such can’t remember the lady’s name. I was just wondering when you guys were gonna get back out here, you’re gonna get this closet taken care of. It’s just been going on for too long. And I just want to know we have a Resolution Day. And there was a very long pause to what she said. I’m just waiting for your husband to call and give the deposit and schedule it and then we’re gonna get you on the books and silence on my end. Oh, yeah, yeah, I must just say I’ve crossed wires, my husband, sure, sure we’ll be in touch right away. And I remember hanging up the phone and thinking, What the fuck is going on. And something inside me said, go look through his stuff. I don’t know why I can’t explain it to this day, something said, go to his office and look through stuff. And so I ran into the office and I was, you know, like a movie a madwoman just rummaging through papers, and I started finding bills with my name on them. Creditors looking for me, a lot of stuff addressed to peel boxes in my name, I had no idea existed, past due invoices, credit cards, more past two invoices, more Pio box things, and I am like, I called him and I said, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but you need to get home right now.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 16:14
We’re back. After she calls Joe. Carrie immediately calls her friends to let them know what just happened and that she won’t be able to come on the trip. But her friends refuse to let her figure this out alone, and insist that she come. Then, in the midst of all of this, Joe gets home.
There was a lot more gaslighting, he didn’t really explain much. It’s kind of a blur, honestly, that day, had some excuses, oh, it’s not what you think. And I’m gonna get you a list of all the bills we have, and this and that, and, and I said, okay, and I got on the plane, and I went and met my friends. And we started doing our own research. So we tried reaching out to some of those emails from the bank that was supposed to prove the reason why I couldn’t access the account. And they were fake. I mean, they were on letterhead, they had everything. We called the carrier for my student loan, because I had no idea of he’d been paying it. And I was very, very, very, very behind. And to the point, I was getting ready to get in some serious trouble. He had just stopped paying it. He was paying his own student loans. But he had stopped paying mine. And every night I would call him and be like, I need to know the truth. Like, is all the money. I think that’s in our savings. They’re like, what else? Are you lying about? No, no, it’s there. You know, everything. Now, you know, everything now. And that weekend was just a bit of a blur. I didn’t know if I was staying or going. I didn’t know the truth. I just knew that something was really wrong. And I could tell you wasn’t being completely honest.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 18:02
A week and a half passes, where Carrie and her friends keep uncovering more pieces of this puzzle. And after the trip, one of her friends has another bomb to drop.
So I get home from the trip. And one of the women that I was with her husband had been friends with Joe. And we got home maybe on a Monday, Wednesday morning, she sends me a text and she said I need to talk to you. You can’t be at home. So I said okay, I said I’m gonna go run an errand. And I went up the street just parked in a parking lot. And she told me a story. She got back and told her husband and he said, I have to tell you something. He said back in 2017. Joe came to me and asked me for a six figure loan to watch. I said, Man, I can’t do that. But what is going on? Like, are you guys okay, what’s happening? Then he gave him some story about needing to pay a loan back to his employer or something and, and our friend tried to talk to him, he’s like, it’s fine, dude, everything’s fine. And and Joe left. So our friend goes and looks at Joe’s company website and sees him listed as an employee there. And then a few days later, he saw him at his kids school event and said, Hey, is everything okay? It’s like, and Joe at a super nonchalant, like he had never asked for the loan. brushed it off, everything’s fine. What are you talking about? And he went and checked the website again. And Joe was no longer listed as an employee. He never told his wife because he didn’t think it was his place to get involved. And Joe had told him this in confidence. So he was trying to keep the confidence of a friend. But when she came back from the trip and knew this, he’s like, I have to tell you, because I think Carrie needs to know what happened a couple of years ago. So I go home. And I say, Joe, did you lose your job in August of 2017? And he looks at me, he goes, why? I said, Just answer the question. And he looks at me and he says, Yeah. And I said, you got up every morning and went to work. Where were you going? I would just go sit at a coffee shop all day. I said, I was only working part time, our daughter was doing a competitive sport, we were paying for preschool for our son. We went on multiple trips, the money was coming into the account. And that’s when I realized that he had been withdrawing money from my Roth, my 401k. And our children’s 529 college savings plan, he would move it back and forth between five to six different accounts before depositing it in the form of his paycheck into our main account.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 21:06
Carrie tells Joe, he needs to come with her to the bank, so she can verify with her own eyes, how much money is left in their main account. He agrees that they will go together on Friday morning,
I thought there was a pretty large sum of money in this account, because we had made a good chunk of money selling our home before we moved. And that morning, he said, Oh, I can’t go. I have a last second meeting. And I said, it’s it’s not an option. We’re going and we’re going right now. This is more important than any meeting. And he said, Oh, the money’s not in that account anymore. I moved it. I moved it the other day. And, you know, I’ve had my own one and only out of body experience in my life. I looked at him. I remember he was sitting on the couch, and he was tying his boots. And I said, there’s no money anymore. Is there, Joe? And he just kept tying his shoe and barely whatever goes, nope. It’s all gone. And I felt like I was watching myself from above. And I flew across the room and I I slapped him across the face. It’s the only time I’ve ever hit anyone that I slapped him across the face. And I fell to the floor. And I said that was my only way out. How could you? I was hysterical. I called my parents. I was hysterical. And my dad who parents superb ly and a crisis just had to talk to me like a small child, you’re going to get dressed. I’ve looked up this fake, it’s this far around the corner, you’re going to drive there, you’re gonna go open an account, we’re gonna wire you money. And you’re going to call me back, do that, and then call me back. So I did. And then I just kept doing whatever he told me to do next. And then I realize, I’ve got to get out of here. I have nobody in this town. I was across the country from my parents, I had no job. I had no money. And so I called the people we were renting from and said I need to know how to get out of this lease. And she said, sort of lease he he bought this house. And actually we’re getting ready to send you guys an eviction notice because he’s not been paying the mortgage. And I said I’m sorry, what?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 23:52
Back when they first moved to the area, Carrie had given Joe the financial power of attorney so he could sign the lease. But instead, he used it to buy the house from the company that flipped it. And each month the payment Joe was supposed to send for the mortgage. Well, it wouldn’t go through he would send the check but not date it or sign it or it would be late to top it off. Carrie found out that the mortgage was way way too much money $100,000 More than they could afford.
So here I am. owning a house that we can’t afford. There is nothing in the bank accounts. And I don’t have access to half the other stuff to know if there’s anything anywhere. It was really scary. So I freaked out obviously. And all he would say was I’m so sorry. And I said I want to know where the money went. And were you gambling Do you have an affair to another family? Where did it go? I don’t know. I remember, I was just paying bills, I don’t remember. I thought you’d be mad at me if I got lost my job. He had lost his job earlier in our marriage. And we had made it work. It wasn’t. It’s part of life, jobs come and go. He never gave me the opportunity to go to work full time to support our family. Because I remember he had said, I’m worried about my job. And I’m like, Well, I can start full time they need me, they would love me full time. Just tell me when I’ll go back. Home. No, no, no, I don’t, I don’t want you doing that. I know you want to be home with the kids have time.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 25:37
Carrie wants to run as far and as fast as possible. But she has no money, no resources. So she tries her best to do what she can. The next month in December, she flies out to a job interview back in the south where her family is, and she lines up work there. However, the Midwestern state that they currently live in, requires Carrie to have been there for six months before she can file for divorce.
I got a divorce attorney. And we had everything ready, just waiting for the six month date to be able to file and I just sort of had to hang out and wait. And sleep under the same roof as this man. I remember. I had a backpack that had all the documents I had found. Every everything I gathered everything I knew, and I would not let it out of my sight. If I left the house, the backpack went with me. When I went to for my job interview, I drove it to someone’s house I knew and said I need you to watch this for me for the next few days. If I slept, it was in bed with me. And he remember him saying I’m not gonna go through your stuff. Why are you why are you acting like this? And I said, Are you fucking kidding me? So I was 39 years old. I had a doctorate I was getting ready to get kicked out of the home right lived. I had two children and I was terrified. I was terrified.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 27:38
Back, carry is trying so hard to pick up the pieces after Joe’s laundry list of secrets blows up her entire life. But she isn’t doing it alone.
Some days, I’m still surprised that I am still steady. I was really fortunate that I had my career that I had my family and that I have the most badass frets. It was Christmas time. I had no money to buy my kids presents. My friends sent me gift cards that I still put together Christmas for them. They had no idea it was any different.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 28:20
But even with the presence wrapped and under the tree, there were some things she knew were not going to feel normal for her son and daughter who were only five and nine at the time. They had questions and once again, Carrie needed answers.
When I flew out from my job interview, we just told them I was going to visit a friend for the weekend. We were sleeping in separate rooms. One of the kids had asked and I said oh, one of us is snoring. You know the age old answer. I wanted to wait until they were on their winter break from school. I went and talked to the school counselor I went and told both their teachers that a divorce was getting ready to happen and that the kids and I would likely be moving. I tried to have everything set up for his support. He did not have it. And on their holiday break. We sat them down. He said nothing. He just sat there and rubbed our daughters back. And I did every single last bit of talking. And I just said there are a lot of different families out there. You know how mom has read the books about some families have a mom and a dad. Some families have two moms and some have two dads or some families decide that their family will be healthier if the mom and dad don’t live together anymore. And I said this is what your dad and I have decided and my nine year olds daddy’s girl she understood right away and was pretty hysterical crying. And my five year old was just looking around. And when he saw his sister cry, he started crying. I don’t think he really understood what it meant. But they both, you know, they cried and and she just kept asking why, why. And I said, sometimes adults just can’t make things work and their adult problems, they’re not your problems to have to bear. And we’re gonna be here for you every step of the way. And I did all the talking. And he just sat there, we’re living under the same roof. And he’d say, I have a work event tonight, and he would go out and he would stay out all night. But he would come home before the kids woke up with a dozen doughnuts from the bakery down the street and the data here, and I don’t know what he was doing, who’s with. But he just decided he was gonna start living, you know, the way he wanted to live. As soon as I found out, he’s like, it’s kind of a relief that you know, now.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 31:08
Carrie files for divorce in January of 2020. She and her kids move back to the south so they can be closer to her parents. But this move lands them smack dab in the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic. So Carrie is moving across the country, again, fresh off a messy divorce and fresh out of money, while the world around her is falling apart as this deadly virus spreads. As if all of that wasn’t hard enough, she is also navigating life as a newly single mom. And although she does have full legal custody of the kids, she wants them to have their father in their lives. So in the beginning, she tries co parenting.
I had this idea in my head of oh, I can, we can be one of those, you know, couples that can still have a holiday together for their kids. And you know, but I’ve had to learn, it’s taken me a long time to learn. That’s not possible. He’s still lies to me to this day. Over things that are, you know, it could be a blue mug sitting in front of us. And I would say that mug is blue, and he would say was red. And within five minutes, he’d have me convinced it was red, he’ll lie about anything. It doesn’t matter. There’s no reason for it. It’s just a lie to lie. And so I’ve had to really make peace and know that we’re never going to be that cozy little co family.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 32:32
Today, Carrie and her kids still live in a South while Joe lives up north, a 24 hour drive away from them.
He has the kids in the summer for a period of time, and some holidays, things like that. But I am the one that does the heavy lifting, day to day parenting, get them ready for school, do all of that. And I am also the one that bears their grief. And at the beginning of this, I would say to myself, it is my honor to bear their grief, it is my honor to bear their grief because the amount of anger that is directed towards me, particularly from a teenage girl now, it’s really hard to swallow. You know, dad is the hero. And I am the one that is here. And the kids ask questions now. And I’ve had to navigate how much to tell them. Because lying is something I tell my kids, I can hear anything but I will not tolerate our family lying to each other. There’s nothing that’ll make me more upset than you lying. So I don’t want to lie to them about what happens. But they ask hard questions like the son or my daughter said, Hey, some of my friends said that they have college saving funds to I have a college savings fund. What am I supposed to say? Well, you did. But your dad spent it all. Or you know Why is dad gotta have a new wife and you don’t have any buddy?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 34:16
Yep, you heard that right. Joe is getting remarried. Can we just like conan for a second on the on the fiance? Does she know about all?
Yes. Yep. I told her You told her because there was a time we had to communicate about something with my children.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 34:41
How did that conversation go?
I thought she was gonna break up with him. They were not engaged yet. And she made it sound like she was gonna leave them. And then the next thing I know, they moved in together. And and now they’re getting married and she’s even said to me The past you’re the one that took his kids away from him. And I said, let’s, you know, no, I kept a roof over his kid’s head, but you do what you need to do. I’ve warned you, I’ve done my job. So I wish them the best. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 35:20
Even though Carrie should clearly win some sort of award for taking the high road, it is impossible to not acknowledge the sheer unfairness of this entire situation. I remember seeing this old home movie from when I was like, I don’t know, barely five, maybe barely four. And I was whining to my mom about how my brother took one of my toys, and it wasn’t fair. And you hear my mom behind the camera, say in the sweetest voice. No one ever said life was fair, Stephanie. And you know what? She was right. Life is not fair. And Carrie knows this more than anyone. She continues to respond to the hard questions that her ex husband has left behind, because that is the kind of wonderful loving mother that she is. Even when it is gutting to be asked these hard questions, she tries to answer as honestly as possible. But at the same time, she won’t tell them everything, at least not yet. Because they’re still so young. And carrying the burden of that is hard work.
It’s been a difficult path in a lot of ways. And I have to remind myself a lot of the time to stay in my lane. To do what I know I need to do to raise these kids to be the kind of human beings that I know that they’re meant to be and stay in their lane. But it has been a very steep learning curve. I don’t know what it’s like to be that my parents are still happily married. I don’t know what it’s like to be a kid of divorce. And they’re allowed to feel however they need to feel. And whatever help they need, I’m here for but that no one gets to tell them how they feel about this. And that divorce is hard on everyone. And that just like, I won’t understand what they’ve been through. They don’t understand what I’ve been through. But it’s not their job to worry about me. And I just do my best some days, it’s a lot harder. And other days, you know, I’m bitter that I’m the one doing all the work. But I also know that I’m the lucky one. And he’s really missing out.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 37:37
As far as money stuff goes, the challenges Carrie is facing will never really be done. Because Joe has left her with tons of unfinished business that is a mountain of debt and endless unanswered questions. Did you ever find out where the money had gone or what he was spending it on?
Even when I got access to some of the accounts, because I had him sign paper that I could go to the bank and get into his accounts, which I didn’t even know there had been any. I remember having all of the papers sat out in front of me and trying to follow. It looked like a web on likes, you know, one of the crime shows with a yarn, I was trying to get yarn criss crossing, I would say okay, this money came into this account, and then he moved it to this account and moved it to this account, and then to here and then you would lose track of it. And then you’d see that same amount gets deposited into the account that I had access to I use air quotes there since half the time I didn’t. I would have had to have a forensic accountant to really be able to figure it out. And to this day, he still won’t tell me you know, I I had creditors calling me all the time harassing me telling me I’m a horrible person I’ll debts I didn’t know existed. And I, to this day, I’ll say I just want to know it would really help me to know. You know, did you have a gambling problem? Did you make a bad investment? What was it? I don’t remember? I don’t remember. What the fuck? What the fuck is right?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 39:16
You’re talking about like, hundreds of 1000s of dollars. Correct?
Yeah, you have time was all said and done? Yes. So the bottom line is he’s not willing to tell me and give me that. And so I’ve had to work really hard on saying it doesn’t matter. I have to learn to heal. And part of that healing is knowing that I’ll never know.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 39:40
Oh man. So the money piece of it. I mean, do you still have this hanging over your head? Do you still have to pay some of this money back like where are you financially?
I am in a much better space. When I was going through the divorce. My attorney advised me that I basically had two options we could file police reports. I mean, there was clearly mail fraud at the very least here, identity theft and all those things. But it’d be difficult to prove because a lot of Eddie had my social my username, my password, my electronic signature, or we could write a settlement into my divorce. And at the time, I had decision fatigue, I was so worn down, I said, let’s just do the settlement. So there was a fee, we came up with it. And it didn’t account for all the retirement savings, but the debts that we could find, where we added up a total and said, you have to pay this much a month for this many months. And regardless of whether he declares bankruptcy or whatever, he has to pay it, and went with that. And then I got a notebook. And on every page I wrote, this is this debtor, this is how much I owe them, they’ve offered me to only pay this much back, here’s how much I can pay them back. And I for the for it was a full time job, okay, it’s the 12th of the month, I have to call these people and pay $1,000 To get this debt down. And then I owed my parents a lot of money because they paid for my booth here, they paid for my first and last month’s rent, they and I busted my ass, and I saved and scrimps and did everything I could and I have, I’m in a much better spot, my credit is fine. I was my kids and I moved to the summer to a new home. And let me tell you how amazing it felt when I applied and they credit checked me and I got approved on my own, with no help from anyone. And it’s only been three years and I felt like a million bucks.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 41:44
It felt amazing. And it’s it’s nothing special. It’s just a little house. But I did it by myself. And I manage this house and I manage our family and I am the one that gets them to school and tucks them in and I work full time and I have remained a good friend and I’ve tried to forge back out into the dating world again. And I have done all these things. And yeah, I want to be nice to myself. I feel like a badass.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 42:16
You are a walking bad ass. Okay, I am chill everywhere you are, like you are turning it around. You are turning it around. It is an incredibly redemptive story.
Yeah, and I think that’s why I wanted to tell it, you know, because if you would have told me, the girl I was, you know, when I found all this out that like, it’s going to be okay. I mean, it’s going to be different, it’s never going to look the way you thought it would be, or maybe the way you wanted it to, but you’re going to come out the other side, I wouldn’t have believed you. You know, for the people that are going through this, like there is a way for you to get out. And it’s really scary. But you can you know, if you’re if you’re in this situation, there’s there’s always a way out. And, and life can look different, but it can look good and different might be just what you needed. Totally.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 43:18
I find that in the show, we talk about grief, so much. So many different kinds. And I think, you know, grief, obviously will take your ass down. But it also will give you this perspective that you in no way possibly ever could have had. Without it. It is like so life changing. And this grief you’re describing is so unique. Right? And, but it feels like it sounds like and tastes like and smells like grief.
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think any divorce is grief, that is less recognized than other types of grief. You know, you lose someone to death. And people support your grieving. When you lose a marriage. It’s looked as as less than but what people who haven’t been through it I don’t think realize is that it’s the death of your past what you thought your future was and your present life this person that was your go to that you shared a bed with that you shared your best and the worst of you is suddenly gone. It felt like a death. And then I felt like not only was I mourning him, but I was also mourning everything that I thought was true. My place in the world my ability to read people my I always thought of myself as an intelligent, independent woman and I realized that I had changed and I had to grieve. You know where at brought me to an agreement for my children, you know, watching them have to navigate the world in a very different way. And, you know, be the kids of a divorced family with, you know, under pretty not good circumstances like I grieved that for them too. And yeah, grief will knock you on your ass.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 45:22
Well, and I think the flip side of it, which is, what are the ways in which you feel like your life is better now than before? Yeah, the flip side, right, right.
Well, I have proven to myself how capable I am. I think I defaulted to letting him do so much. You know, programming the garage door, I can do that. I did it. It seems so stupid. But I did it. I changed out a toilet lid without a man to help me I do the grocery shopping, I pay the bills. I do literally everything. And I work and I’ve really challenging career full time. And I’ve shown myself, I don’t need anyone to do this stuff. For me. I am more than capable. And if I need help, I can ask. And there’s no shame in asking for that help. But I could do a lot more than I thought I could. And that feels amazing. I feel like I gained back my power by saying like, I’m going to learn about this. I’m going to teach myself about finances. I’m going to figure this out. Like I could figure this out. And so I feel like I I’ve worked really hard to learn about different things to take that power back and and not only am I more myself again, but hopefully a better version because of what I’ve been through. And my kids have I don’t know what it’s like to parent them not divorced for this amount of time. But they’re great kids. Do we have our problems? Yes, my daughter is 13. She doesn’t like the fact that I’m breathing someday. Saint Omar, but Right, but we’re getting there. They’re happy. They’re healthy. We we’ve made a community and a life for ourselves. And we did that as a team, the three of us and I’m damn proud of myself, that of them. And there were days where I could not fathom. I didn’t think I’d survive a day. And I want to tell you what I would say to myself everyday if that’s okay, yeah. I was listening to another podcast years ago before this happened. And this woman was talking about the book, The Secret Garden. And in the musical version, there was a point where they sing a song and in the song may say, it’s the storm, not you that’s bound to blow away. And during the midst of this, when things were really bad, there were days where I would have to get up to get the kids on the bus. And I felt like my head weighed a million pounds. And sometimes the only thing that got me through the day was chanting storm. Not you, Storm, not you. And it’s so cheesy, but it it it still has been my mantra to this day. Anything that comes my way. I feel overwhelmed still, but I know I’m not going to go away I would have already and I’m still going to be here. And that’s kind of what I want other people to know too with. When you’re in it feels like you’re never going to live through it. But you will. You’ll find a way.
There’s even more LAST DAY with Apple premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, including even more with Carrie and specifically how she hears of so many women who have had similar life experiences. Subscribe now and Apple podcasts. LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. The show is produced by Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci, and Tiffany Bui. Our engineer is Brian Castillo. Music is by Hannis Brown. Steve Nelson is our Vice President of weekly content and production and Jackie Danziger is our Vice President of narrative content and production. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. If you’d like what you heard today, we have three other seasons that you can check out. Have a story you’d like to share, head to