Monday, January 18, 2010

The Upside Of Anger

Posted By Anonymous.

You're selfish.

It's what I've been dying to tell you since July 2008, when what you did came out: how you lied to investors and your family and your friends, lost millions of dollars but kept on collecting your fees, behaving like you were making a fortune for them. The first thing I thought of was the $500 check that arrived with a letter the week before my wedding, the letter that made me cry. It was the first thing I thought of when I found out, that check: he stole that money.

You're my cousin, but you've been more like my brother. I'm named after your mother and you were just a kid when she died, eight or nine maybe? You were the youngest of three brothers. Your oldest brother was a golden boy who never touched anything that didn't immediately turn to gold. Middle brother was so sweet; everyone loved him. It broke everyone's heart when he died at 18.

You moved to Hawaii and married your high school sweetheart and started having babies with her and I don't think anybody thought you'd come back to Michigan, but you did, determined to be a success right here in front of your family, be the success story that you always thought you should be. You started a hedge fund and you really hustled, you wanted to make it fly worse than anyone, more than the people who were giving you their money to invest. It was 1999 and it seemed like a sure thing.

And then. And then September 11th. And then the economy. And then your dad started to get sick and moved in with you. And then your wife had an affair. And then, and then, and then.
You ran for city commission, and it was a close race but you lost. You and your wife split up and you fought her for custody of your kids. We all wished you'd won. She let you have the older two boys and she took the twins and that wasn't okay with anybody, least of all you, but it was what it was and you did the best you could do. You met a woman and started dating her; it got serious fast because you'd never been alone but we all liked her. Stephanie was bright and independent and had a gift for drawing people out.

You and your middle son came out to Washington D.C. and we had a great time with you. We went to the zoo and to Georgetown and when your flight was cancelled that night, I came to Reagan in the middle of the night to rescue you and brought you back to my apartment.
A couple years later and your hedge fund was floundering and Stephanie broke it off with you. She said she couldn't see an up side to marrying you, and I know that reinforced all of your worst feelings about yourself. It was an awful thing to say and we were all furious when you told us what she'd said. She kept stringing you along though, kept seeing you. You did things like back out of obligations you'd made to your kids to spend time with her and as someone whose father abandoned her, I was pretty disgusted with you then, but I swallowed it. You convinced your elderly, nursing-home-ridden father to buy you a house, said that you'd pay the mortgage on it and eventually put it in your name. You picked that house because Stephanie loved it and you thought if you had that house she'd see an up side.
The day the house closed, you were indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud and securities fraud.

You told my mother, your aunt, and she kept it quiet from the whole family. She didn't tell me until the day you were sentenced to 19 months in minium security federal prison, and then she called me at work. "I have some bad news," she said. She was crying. It was such a burden to her to have kept it quiet--she'd been going to court with you, quietly persuading people to write letters on your behalf, trying to minimize the impact of what was crashing into you.

You pled guilty and were taking responsibility for what you'd done, she said. The sentence was less than half of the 40 months that the federal prosecuters asked for and everyone was grateful for that. You'd be out in time to see your oldest son graduate from high school in 2010. That was what passed for an up side in this sorry-ass case.

I was devastated, for you, for your kids, for me. When my parents drove you down to West Virginia to begin your prison term, I almost drove the two hours to West Virginia, but couldn't do it. It was too sad. It was too hard to imagine. I didn't want to see you like that, in that place. But I was disappointed in you when my mother told me that you'd spent the weekend before you left in some bed and breakfast on the beach with Stephanie instead of with your kids--an interesting turn of affairs since you were, apparently, too destitute to pay child support.

I got your emails, and I watched you turning into a selfish, self-centered person. The person who was accountable, who took responsibility for what he did was gone. You blamed other people. You shrugged off responsibility. When I told you that we'd decided to move back to Michigan after the baby was born last summer, you were the only person who was negative about it. Don't you want to live somewhere warm? you asked. Well, no, and I never did, but it's not really about that, I said, we want our kids to know their family. It was a mistake, you announced, it was what you'd done when you came back and look what had happened.
I'm not you. I would never steal from people who trusted me. And what we were doing was hard enough without your vote of no confidence. The economy in Michigan stinks, and my husband's a teacher. We knew it was a calculated risk to come back. Everything you said just made it scarier and harder.

We came back, and my husband got a job in your youngest kids' school. We rented a house a few blocks away from where you grew up. We were thrilled; our kids would grow up knowing your kids. We could be there for them. My husband, who isn't their teacher, keeps tabs. When they were writing about not having enough food in the house, their English teacher came to him, knowing they were family, wanting to know what was going on. When your daughter was having anger management issues, he came back. We've gone to their swim meets, invited them over for dinner and game night. We've stretched ourselves thin to be there for them.
Your father died on Monday, five weeks before you were scheduled to be released. And now, it's all about you and a 48 hour furlough and who's going to drive from Michigan to West Virginia in a snowstorm to pick you up and who's going to take you back after the funeral. The federal bureau of corrections is funny about letting people out on furloughs, they want to know where you'll be and what you'll be doing and where you'll be staying.

You want to stay in your house with your kids. Well, first and foremost, it's not your house. It belongs to the estate. And at the moment it happens to be occupied by your ex-wife and your children, where she moved so that they could stay in their school. She's been paying rent to your father for the last year and a half, even though she has a house of her own. I'm no big fan of hers and I never have been, I think she's a flake and a lousy parent. But she's got a good reputation in the community and she's doing her best, which is more than anyone could say about you.

Don't come barreling into their lives for 48 hours and turning it upside down again, just to have to turn around and go back to prison. Don't you know what it would mean to have you in their house again? They're finally getting used to you not being there. Your brother generously offered to wait to hold a memorial service until next month, when you come home, but you insisted on the expense and inconvenience of being flown home now.
You're like a spoiled child, and everyone in this family bends to your will and I am sick to death of it. I'm sick of watching my mother torn to pieces by what's happening to you. I'm sick of watching her endlessly playing referee between you and your brother. I'm sick of watching your kids break into a thousand pieces at the thought of how much they miss their father. And I'm sick of how disappointed I am in you and what you've become, because you were my hero growing up.

Mostly I'm sick of your completely deluded spin about what your life will be like when you come home. Stephanie hasn't written, called, or visited you. You haven't heard from her once. And why should she? She's not like your ex-wife: she's educated and ambitious, doesn't need anyone to take care of her (and if she did, God knows you wouldn't be capable of it), and if there was no up side before, I guarantee you there's less than no up side now. She's just not that into you. Your kids are pissed, and rightfully so. You didn't get drafted into miltary service, you went to prison, and rightfully so. Don't think they didn't notice that, or that you didn't pay any attention to them for the three months before you went.

You need a job, a real one, not some "lead-generating" half-assed thing that one of your friends has made up for you, one that will allow you to take some responsibility for your obligations--like the $700,000 you owe in restitution, like the child support you need to sack up and pay. I'm sorry you're not the success story you thought you would be, but you've lost my respect in trying to steal someone else's success and you're verging on ridiculous. You're selfish, and for the first time in my life, I can say that I'm disappointed in you.

8 comments:

Kate said...

wow, that is tough. sending my thoughts to your family, and those kids.

Deb said...

I admire your commitment to your extended family and hope you feel a tiny bit better having written down your thoughts. I became outraged as I read your story. Good luck to you and his children. Thankfully you and your husband are in their lives.

lorien_i said...

I would print this out and send it to him. Seriously -- what do you have to lose? The man is an asshat of the first degree.

Anonymous said...

Friend-that-I've-never-met, I'll tell you one thing. Don't for a second let yourself feel guilty for no longer wanting to bend over backwards to help this person. Every family has a member (or 2 or 8) who is TOXIC.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lorien-i. it would really do him some good to see this. seriously. Also, please stay in those kids' lives...they need you. You are incredible. Hang in there....

Anonymous said...

How can the ex-wife be a lousy parent after you just proved how much she's willing to do for her kids?! She could have been selfish like your cousin (which is what lousy parents do) but instead she made sacrifices to keep the kids as stable as possible. You sound very judgmental and bitter. I would have almost had sympathy for you had it not been for the daggers you throw every other sentence. All I hear from you is "I'm better!" and "I don't make mistakes like yooooou!!" and "Na na na na na! Blah blah blah."

You're just lucky life hasn't handed you your ass on a platter yet.

People make mistakes. Be upset. But drop the attitude. Looking down on others the way you're doing now doesn't put you in a good light either. At all.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think life HASN'T handed me my ass on a platter? How do you think I know that the way that my cousin is acting is totally unacceptable? And I never said I didn't make mistakes; what I said was, I wouldn't steal to appear more successful than I really am. That's not actually a difficult determination to make.

My cousin's ex-wife is not a good parent. She parents because she has to. She liked the attention she got from having cute babies (she had them modeling at a year old), but she doesn't like the hassle of raising kids. When she and my cousin divorced, she just "gave" him the two older boys; they were a hassle and she wasn't interested in dealing with them. She's resented having all of the kids all of the time the entire time my cousin was in prison; she's aired all of her anger and frustration with him in front of the kids; she's violated his privacy in some pretty unforgivable ways (like posting portions of his journals on the internet); she leaves all four kids alone in the house under the care of the oldest (who's 17) for weekends at a time.

I don't really care what kind of a light it puts me in. It's not about me. It's about four kids who would be a hell of a lot better off if their parents would grow the fuck up.

Allison Zapata said...

I have an ass-hat in my family too. Hang in there, sista.