Get outside input to identify your patterns

The only way I can write this is to tell myself I won’t publish it. I don’t even know how to write it. I know it’s convoluted because the only person who could understand it on the first try is the criminal lawyer.

When I moved to Pennsylvania with the kids last November the Farmer gave me a bill for $35K.

I told him, “Fine. I’ll pay you back in a few months.”

I have a long track record of paying him back huge sums of money.

But then he called his bank and told them I stole his credit card and have been charging things on it for half a year.

I leave 20 messages for 20 lawyers. I tell myself it’s like a job interview – each time you explain you get a little more clear. But I can’t get the story to make sense.

My husband’s credit cards were tied to my PayPal account and he’s saying all the transactions on PayPal with his cards are fraud.

My ex-husband is frustrated that I’m not paying him back fast enough so he is taking the money I paid other people.

I was living with this guy for seven years and I used his credit cards to pay our bills but now he’s saying I stole the cards.

In the meantime, I try to make the boys feel normal by watching Silicon Valley. Season 3 episode 4. We snuggle together on the too-small sofa and watch Pied Piper implode.

No callbacks.

I call my dad. No answer. I do two calls right in a row – the universal signal for an emergency.

I tell myself maybe he wouldn’t have helped me anyway. We’ve asked him for help with legal stuff since we were kids. My brother asked him to argue a parking ticket and my dad said, “I’m not a traffic lawyer.” My mom wanted him to write a letter to the neighbor about sewage, and he said, “I’m not a civil litigator.”

My dad becomes a master of all things legal only when it’s useful for him. Like when I finally called the police on him.

I call my brother to see if he can tell me what kind of lawyer I need to talk to. He tells me, “You should go to a domestic violence center.”

I get pissed. I hang up on him. I am not homeless. I need a lawyer. When he needs a lawyer he goes to a million dollar NYC law firm. When I need a lawyer he thinks I should go to a place for women who are falling apart.

I call my mother for help. She points me to her divorce lawyer. She was his favorite client. In 1987. They still keep in touch. He listens to me for 30 minutes. I can tell I’m still explaining it poorly.

I call Melissa.

This is all my fault. I’m terrible with money. I misused his money. He had such nice life before he met me.

She tells me to go to the same place my brother told me to go. (He texted Melissa to tell me since I hung up on him.) She tells me what he’s learned: that the financial stuff amounts to harassment and harassment is a form of abuse and it fits the pattern of people likely to conduct more physical abuse.

I ask Melissa if she thinks I should go. She says yes. There is data to back this up. She reminds me of this article.

So I finally call the number my brother texted me. I try again to explain what happened, this time to the crisis person.

I was in an abusive relationship with my husband and I left. And he’s not really my husband. And he thinks because I haven’t paid him back what I owe him yet that I’m a thief. And he is telling his banks that I stole his credit cards.

She says, “It’s very common for physical abuse to turn into a another form of abuse once there is physical distance.”

I start crying.

I get lost on the way to the domestic abuse place. They hand me a form that asks me about the last time I was abused. I leave it blank. I am not sure what was abuse and what wasn’t.

The form asks you to check off the types of abuse you have experienced: One of the choices is vehicle. My first thought is: What? Then I remember the Farmer trying to run me over with his tractor. I make a check mark. I am shocked. I make another check mark next to physical. I would never be checking these boxes if I didn’t document it all here on this blog. I take a picture. Here. Right now. I’m scared I won’t believe I was ever here.

The social worker hands me a printout. It is a circle to show the cycle of domestic violence. I cry again. I tell her the Farmer would say I do all these things.

I have written about the cycle. But I can write about the cycle and it’s like I write it and then it’s out of my head.

She shows me the part on the wheel where the abuser makes the victim feel responsible.

I tell her he would be so so angry to hear someone summarizing our relationship this way. He thinks I’m manipulative and full of shit.

The center of the cycle says control. The social worker says, “The abuser is always trying to get control.”

I feel dizzy and sick but I don’t tell her that because the Farmer says I make him feel dizzy and sick and he would say I’m manipulating people when I say that.

The lawyer comes in. I cannot get a restraining order when I’m not in the same state. She tells me she can help me file a criminal complaint with the Attorney General. “What he’s done is very serious,” she tells me. She warns me I cannot withdraw the complaint once I file.

I feel too sorry for him. I don’t file.

The criminal lawyer calls me back. He says, “Wait. I don’t get it. Is there a lot of money here or not a lot of money?”

I say, “Do you watch Silicon Valley?”

He says, “Yes.”

I say, “It’s like that. I either have tons of money or no money.”

He gets it.

Toward the end of the call he says, “I totally agree — this an extension of physical abuse.”

Wait. What did he just say? I didn’t even hear what he said after that. I write it down. So I’ll believe it later.

He says it’s not a big deal. He’ll call PayPal. It’ll take him an hour or two. He’ll call the Farmer and explain this is not credit card fraud. He says in the worst case the Farmer can sue me in a civil case, but it’s highly unlikely because he has a weak case and it would cost so much money.

In the middle of all this my older son gets a text from the Farmer: “Hi. How are you doing? Did you get the package I sent with your mail?”

I lay down. I feel delirious. I shut my eyes. My phone rings. It’s my dad.

I don’t answer. I text instead: “Thank you for calling back. I needed some advice but I figured things out.”

He texts: “I called your mom. Is everything okay? Is the marriage over?”

I text: “Yeah. I don’t think he realizes that it’s over. He actually thinks things are fine. He thinks he is doing nothing wrong and I have poor judgment and that’s just how life is. He said he’s coming next month to celebrate the boys’ birthdays.”

He texts: “It seems that he has always had doubts about your judgment, but managed to accommodate. Be careful. He’s a good man who can deal with your quirks. This is not easy to come by.”

200 replies
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  1. Missy
    Missy says:

    OMG this makes me so mad! Ugh!

    You were programmed so young to only tolerate bullshit from people, not normal behavior. You don’t register normalcy, only abuse. I would say for your sake, please don’t get into another relationship. You are so incredibly capable all by yourself. But in this regard, you just aren’t. You’ve surrounded yourself with brilliant people. Use them for their knowledge.

    Much love to you. You’ve helped me figure out so much of my life. Now I hope others can help you figure out yours.

    • Miodrag
      Miodrag says:

      I can only agree Missy. Especially the part where you only surround yourself with people who encourage you, who challenge you to cross your limits and who are much smarter than you are.

    • Nutz!
      Nutz! says:

      Look at all these commenters below who are completely sucked into this drama! As if it’s their own life happening.

      Wow, you folks need to have a self-reality check. She’s not balanced and neither are you enabler-types. Get a grip!

      I don’t know the whole picture and neither do any of you. Rest assured there is plenty more to it. But, she’s got you wrapped around here finger. Hello?

  2. Erin Wetzel
    Erin Wetzel says:

    Fuck your dad’s fucking comments. Wtf. No.


    You are beautful and deep and compassionate and patient and generous and full of truth.

    Whether or not you feel like you deserve ood things in life, you CERTAINLY don’t deserve to be manipulated and controled by your dad or the farmer or anyone else. Fuck that shit.

    You are precious.

  3. Muriel
    Muriel says:

    I left my ex-fiancé when I was 25 because more than once, he wouldn’t let me leave the apartment. He physically blocked the doorway. He physically blocked the door of my car. He was a lot taller and stronger than me. The night I finally left for good, after he unsuccessfully blocked doorways and my car door, he climbed on the hood of my car and clung to it while I slowly began to drive away. I drove up a steep parking lot entrance and he still held on. I braked to jolt the car and he still held on. I honked and he still held on. Finally I rolled down the windows and screamed Help and he let go and got off the car, and let me drive away. It felt like abuse. From him to me. It didn’t feel like I was trying to hit him with my car.

    I did similar things to my husband, five years later. I blocked doorways, followed him, would try my best not to let him leave while we were fighting. I have smashed vases, and cut my arm. Panicked, desperate, not breathing all the way.

    What helped me finally was going to Co-Dependents Anonymous. Now I let him have space during an argument. And now it doesn’t even escalate to that point anymore. Now I don’t usually feel like I’m drowning when we argue. If the drowning feeling comes, I recognize what’s happening and soothe myself.

    I told my ex-fiancé when I left him that I was sure if I stayed he’d hit me someday. He was controlling. He tried to isolate me from my friends. He came to my work just to watch me, and got mad if he perceived my customer service friendliness as flirtatious. Etc.

    I’ve never done any of those things to my husband, but I acted in other bad ways, that if the genders were reversed, would have been red flags for abuse. I grew up with an enraged dad high on speed and drunk. I grew up listening closely to my parents argue and playing marriage counselor in my head.

    I don’t have a conclusion. Just, this entry made me think of a lot of things I never talk about. And I wonder of Co-Dependents Anonymous (“Coda”) might help you.

    • Mia
      Mia says:

      What a thoughtful and amazing post. I understand what you’re saying and I get it. I have pushed a few of my boyfriends to distraction. One physically pushed me. I was so relieved to find a counsellor who told me that incessantly talking at him into the Early hours etc was abusive in itself. Things are rarely black and white and one person is rarely to blame.
      And I know that Americans love to ‘live out loud’ but even that can be intensely disrespectful to your spouse and to your relationship.

  4. #Evy MacPhee
    #Evy MacPhee says:

    Therapy for you might help.

    Early abuse makes it hard to judge who can be trusted.

    Take care of your smart, beautiful, precious self. You deserve kind and loving treatment.

    Be gentle with yourself during this painful time.

    Your boys would benefit most from a mother who took care of herself.

  5. S
    S says:

    You are courageous. That biological Dad you had…it’s sickening; for he wields power still. I offer you this quote: True Peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.

    I dont know who to attribute the quote to but its embossed on the foggy door of the ‘waiting room’ at my local PD, SVU dept.

    May you have ultimate peace and justice in the presence of your body, home and the boys.

  6. Tom
    Tom says:

    Very courageous post.

    I hope those moron commenters who are always telling you to crawl back to him (because, you know, “husband”) finally shut up.

    But if not, I sure hope you don’t let them get you down.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      I hope so too. For some even an abuser is better than no husband, apparently, but it is 2017! There’s no need for anyone to tolerate this treatment. Obviously I don’t know either of them, but as a casual outside observer, they never seemed like a compatible fit to begin with.

  7. Maria
    Maria says:

    I could only say it in a poem.

    It’s called


    I love you to pieces
    From here to eternity
    As you hold the chains
    that seem to bind me

    With every breath I take
    I feel you unwind me
    I love you to pieces
    From here to eternity

    The bruises add color
    To my brief memories
    Of nights we’re together
    In our little sanctuary

    I love it when I leave
    And you come back for me
    You always come
    Back for me

    The scars run deep
    In the halls of my memories
    In the fog of my fatigue

    As I fantasize of
    a sweet reprieve
    We dance forever
    From here to eternity

    A life remembered of another day and time, isn’t that right,
    Mr Hide?

    As I question my own mind the Jeckle hides in the blink of an eye
    and then we are back to just you and I





    Time slows to a crawl
    The cycle of a fruit fly
    The clock ticks as the eggs crack and the air thickens

    I can’t breathe as brief is my reprieve a glass spills
    And I wince

    as the shoe
    has dropped and
    time has stopped
    For just a heart beat

    You seize the opportunity
    Like a man on a mission
    to destroy me
    Doesn’t matter why

    What if I tell you
    I’m sorry?
    I am so sorry…
    looking as I beg for mercy

    and you only want
    to beat me while
    you promise to kill me
    should I ever leave,

    don’t you see?






  8. JM
    JM says:

    I’m sorry to hear about what you’re currently going through. However, as someone who’s boyfriend physically assaulted her 8 days ago I know how much pain you must be in right now.
    Funnily enough over the weekend I was reading your other blog posts about DV and your abusive relationship with the farmer. And in a way they gave me hope that maybe my relationship can be salvaged as it was 1 isolated incident of violence; and there’s no other pattern of abuse in our relationship.
    However whatever the future holds I just want to say thank you for sharing your story and being honest even when it hurts. Your blog posts have made me feel less alone in what has been the hardest week of my life (week just gone) And I hope you remain strong and continue to keep us your readers updated throughout thus painful transition.

      • JM
        JM says:

        Hi Jessica,
        Thanks for the advice. However, as I think has been established throughout the posts on the blog and responding comments. Sometimes there’s reasons that make it difficult to leave. In my case as I mentioned there hasnt been any patterns of abuse in my relationship prior to the assault. And I know this because I’ve spoke to several health care professionals and a Domestic violence helpline regarding our relationship. Prior to this incident we mostly had a good relationship full of love, happy memories, affection and mutual support for one another.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          Physical violence means he has a problem. Anyone telling you otherwise is not being straight with you.

          Was he arrested? If not, why not. If it was anyone else he would be dealing with felony assault charges.

          • JM
            JM says:

            I am not denying he has a problem, and nor is anyone else. Clearly he does have a problem which I think is ADHD. However, whether he has ADHD or not both myself and he are fully aware that doesn’t justify what he did to me. The reason why I haven’t had him arrested is because he is a dentist and I know there’s a high chance he could be struck off for what he did. And I dont want to go down the route of having him reported as I’m still trying to recover and don’t wish to get the police involved. As I said we did have a very good and loving relationship he has not been abusive at all other than this one incident hence my hesitation to get the police involved.

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            He won’t lose his license. You’re trying to marry this fool? Find another doc if that is your concern, he clearly has none for you. Stop trying to protect his future income for some future marriage. And yeah, it will get worse. Always does, especially since you’re sticking around.

          • JM
            JM says:

            //He won’t lose his license. You’re trying to marry this fool? Find another doc if that is your concern, he clearly has none for you. Stop trying to protect his future income for some future marriage. And yeah, it will get worse. Always does, especially since you’re sticking around.//

            Did I mention marriage. I’m in my mid 20s so marriage isn’t my main priority right now, my career is. And as a self employed consultant I’m not staying with him as he’s a Doc. Financially thanks to being self employed and family support I don’t depend on him for money.
            Also last time I checked if there has been a history of patterned abuse in the relationship yes it will get worse. But as I stated previously there hasnt been a pattern previously.

          • JM
            JM says:

            Hi Jennifer,
            Thanks for the support and yes I agree every pattern starts with a first. But I’m hoping the fact that he has apologised profusely, has spoken to a domestic perpetrator helpline, read up on abusive behaviour (causes, affects ± prevention) And has agreed to seek treatment/therapy for his ADHD to develop better coping mechanisms in stressful situations, means he won’t be doing it again. But who knows… I cannot control or predict his actions. But I can encourage him to receive counselling for his behaviour to try and prevent him hurting anyone again.

          • Jane
            Jane says:

            This is why women continue to be abused by men. The rationalization. ‘It’s not just him. I’m a lot to deal with.’, and the rest of that bullshit. It’s all just code for: ‘I want to be with him even though I know he is abusive and nothing anyone says is going to change my selfish need to have what I want even if I end up dead.’
            ‘Oh he has apologized profusely so this is different than regular abusers!’ BULLSHIT. That is EXACTLY the same as any and every abuser.

            Just once I’d like to hear a woman who has been abused by her partner say, ‘Any person that assaults another is a sick human being with deep rooted issues. He is a grown adult that will have to handle his issues. Clearly I need counseling as I chose to be with this person.’

            I won’t hold my breath.

  9. Maria
    Maria says:

    You need to finish what you started.

    Sign the document.

    Feel sorry for him later, after you have a restaining order on him since his coming up means you are no longer in separate states.

    It is not healthy for the kids nor you for him to come up. He’s plotting revenge. He already started.

    As for your feeling empathy for him. Here is the deal, you must care and protect yourself so you can care and protect your kids. He is not on your list of responsibilities.

    He is not worthy.

    Some of the most notorious psychopaths did good deeds when it fit their standing in society.

    His offering to come up for your kids birthday and sending presents is fake. The package is part of the fraud.

    His violence, making fake accusations to get you arrested is REAL.

    The credit card issue is like giving you the keys to a car and reporting it stolen is real.

    Tell him not to come.

    I bet he will stay free at your place while he files the police report with the credit card theft issue in your state.

    • Evy MacPhee
      Evy MacPhee says:

      Yes, yes, yes!

      Adults molested as Children sometimes let intimates get away with bad or questionable behavior. Please protect yourself and those precious boys.

      You may have done non-perfect things and behaviors that provoked him. That means nothing.

      What is important is protecting yourself physically, financially, and emotionally at all costs. ALL COSTS. And protecting your boys from having to watch you suffer. Being forced to be around abuse of a loved one is also painful and abusive.

      Those boys really only have you. Protect yourself and them.

      Love and support and caring.

      I wish you would let me do up your astrology, for my own edification. No charge. I will only tell you as much or as little as you want to know. Because of my own history, I have made it a point to look at the charts of other incest survivors and group therapy members. Please let me do this. I will keep my mouth and my keyboard shut if you so desire.

      Get an attorney who is also a mediator to protect yourself and do right in this very difficult situation you and your boys are in.

  10. Deborah Hymes
    Deborah Hymes says:

    //They hand me a form that asks me about the last time I was abused. I leave it blank. I am not sure what was abuse and what wasn’t.//

    I understand. When your earliest emotional connections are a toxic tangle of love and abuse, it sets a pattern that you can spend the rest of your life trying to unravel. I no longer have abusive relationships, but I’m always vigilant about monitoring my interactions. It will never be an automatic boundary for me.

    The farmer acting like everything is normal — making plans to visit, having a friendly chat with the boys while terrorizing their mother — is abusive. Deliberately making you worried and afraid is abusive. Threatening you with criminal action is *certainly* abusive.

    Don’t be mad at yourself for feeling confused and conflicted. It is genuinely confusing! Which weirdly, is proof that you’re actually not nuts.

    • Kresstech
      Kresstech says:

      YES — the fact that you are questioning things is both proof that he is abusive and that you are not crazy. Stand up for your kids, even if it feels unfamiliar to stand up for yourself. There are no possible excuses for his shitty behavior.

  11. Poppy
    Poppy says:

    I just want to give you all my support. You are brave and amazing, and you’ve helped me so much. Our coaching session gave me a lot of peace and clarity, and I hope that life will put someone in your path that can also give you the perspective you need to make the changes that are best for you.
    I send you tons of love and gratitude from Spain.

  12. Maria
    Maria says:

    Penelope, the farmer is a lier. Calling the banks to say you stole his credit cards reflect very poorly on him! I think you totally did the right thing looking for help and finding a lawyer…. try to stay well and healthy and give your kids stability. Kids need emotional stability…. I dont even talk about financial stability on that I think you will do great! Thanks for sharing..

  13. Ladane
    Ladane says:

    I’m sending you big hugs Penelope. You don’t need abuse, I know you say needing a man in your life is important for women’s happiness, but you need to get rid of the farmer. I’ve disliked him since that reality TV video of your family. What a monster. Drop him.

  14. Bob
    Bob says:

    There must be more to this story, if people are saying it’s abuse to cancel credit cards which are being used without the permission of the person whose name is on the card. Frankly that makes no sense.

    • Jack
      Jack says:

      You’re right, there is more to the story. The farmer has been physically and emotionally abusive towards Penelope for years, and the credit card reporting has been identified by domestic violence experts to be an extension of that abuse. Animal farming is in itself very violent in nature, so I’m not surprised that the farmer is also violent towards Penelope.

    • Jack
      Jack says:

      Penelope, don’t forget that you renovated, furnished, and decorated the farmer’s house. Yes it was to bring the standard up to living there with your sons, but the equity remains his. Surely that totals $35K if not more.

    • Tracy
      Tracy says:

      He reported the cards as stolen and accused her of fraud, that’s the harrassment.

      • Brad
        Brad says:

        That’s not harassment. They are his cards. Everyone is assuming that she had his permission to keep using them, which is highly doubtful.

        • Tracy
          Tracy says:

          More than that. I am even assuming her name is on ‘his’ credit card, based on the fact it is hard to tie a differently named credit-card to a Paypal account and that the lawyer states it is not even something that Paypal would fuss about (i.e. does not violate their terms of service).

          • Brad
            Brad says:

            We’ll all assume what we want. If her name was on the card, the bank would reject the claim that the charges were unauthorized.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        Yeah, he’s having his issuer recover the funds. Doesn’t seem like a huge drama just a big money issue for P.

        She doesn’t make it clear if she told the attorney her off again boyfriend, not husband, is reversing unauthorized charges. Even if they were together he could be very underwater and trying to mitigate more charges by canceling now.

        • Jennifer
          Jennifer says:

          I thought she makes tons of money from speaking engagements. Why not just do some of those?

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      If it’s her PayPal account, wouldn’t she be paying the bills regardless of whose name is on the card? I don’t really understand either, but apparently a lawyer does, and agreed with her.

      If she took his credit card (which he pays the bills for) to finance her new life in Philadelphia, though, I agree she is in the wrong if they are officially separated. But it doesn’t sound like that is the case.

      • W
        W says:

        If she had been up to date on payments there would be nothing to dispute. The lawyer said he could sue her, but probably wouldn’t. Not exactly an endorsement.

        The most likely scenario is that she fell behind, leaving the farmer on the hook for her charges.

  15. Jack
    Jack says:

    Penelope, please listen to the shelter and lawyer when they ask you to file the restraining order and also to relocate.

    You cannot stay living in fear. He cannot know where you and the boys live. You are strong enough to get through this. My thoughts are with you.

  16. J
    J says:

    INFJ here.

    It seems to me there is a lot going on here, but the whole picture is still unclear to me.
    Are you a bit of a head case? Self-admittedly, yes.
    Is the Farmer? Yes.

    My husband and I are a bit of the same and have gone through combat PTSD etc. and have had our real-life bouts that if I publicly posted about, people would make a whole bunch of generalizations that end up making me feel like we should never be together and I’m totally nuts. But we are incredibly happy (now) together even through the dysfunctional times.

    Life doesn’t always work by looking at a social worker’s wheel. Because most relationships have the same shitty parallels and we all do and say shitty things to each other.

    What it boils down to is that you are trying to make big changes as evidenced by your recent love letter blog. Has he reached out to you in a similar way? Are we only getting the snippet of the fight and not the whole picture? Is the whole picture that you are trying hard to make bigger changes in your relationship despite the distance and not had that reciprocated? Your honest answers to those questions (whatever they are) will tell you a lot.

    Maybe the truth is that you don’t feel too sorry for him but you understand he’s just messing with you but took it too far. But you are not willing to lash back out at him in a way that is equally serious (involving authorities). What does that say to you about yourself? It says to me that he indeed is abusive and has less regard for you than you have for him.

    Did you mean to create a parallel between him and your father, knowing your readers would see the connection and feel sorry for you and offer you support? Do you WANT to hear that he is an abuser so it will give you permission to step away? Do you want to step away?

    I just want to tell you (because I know you’ll read this, and don’t expect you to respond)…

    It’s OKAY to value yourself. You don’t need the farmer or your dad to agree that their treatment of you is wrong. That may be asking too much of them. But you don’t have to hold back waiting for them to catch up with your realization. They don’t treat you well. They manipulate the way you think. As long as they have you feeling badly about yourself, they can control you. But you don’t have to give your power away like that. You are valuable even if they just make you feel crazy. you have to know that, and once you do – you’ll see how meaningless what they think of you actually is. You think you don’t have a support system but you expose yourself in a public forum and you actually have a huge support system. We just don’t meet up with you for tea.

    Sometimes I can’t tell if you are just a very good story teller or if you really don’t know your value. I’m speaking bluntly because I think this style of speaking works better with you.

    Bottom line – you need to value yourself. You won’t be able to see clearly until you do. And if you don’t, or can’t, then trust other people’s judgment. The people who prove they love you and don’t make you question your sanity (like Melissa). And your reader’s judgments. Because your heart breakingly honest posts say a lot to us that maybe you really can’t see.

  17. Jack
    Jack says:

    Come to think of it, the farmer being a farmer has normalized violence. Violence is his lifestyle and his income source. It’s just that the animal violence is socially acceptable and not illegal, so no one sees it as problematic.

  18. Lorrie
    Lorrie says:

    Having read this blog for years, I’m confused not so much by this post as by everyone’s reaction.

    She obviously wanted a father figure in her children’s life. She presented herself to the Farmer in the most attractive way possible. Being a man, he responded. They got married.

    She was always “borrowing’ money from him, in large amounts. Finally, she devoted her life (and both sons’) to one child’s cello career, which is tantamount to devoting it to his future as a unicorn trainer.

    I’d be pissed and at my wit’s end too if I were her husband.

      • J
        J says:

        Every person is the protagonist in their own story. You seem to be pushing your view of the farmer pretty hard. Life has tons of shades of grey, and it’s important to leave room for that.

        • Jack
          Jack says:

          You seem to be enabling abuse.

          Read the blog posts P has linked here. None of this is new stuff and surely throwing someone to the floor, standing over them while yelling, jamming their foot in the door, and almost killing them with a vehicle constitutes abuse to you? Or is that a shade of grey? This is not an erotica blog, this is Penelope’s real life.

          I’m trying to give P support that she needs, not more BS confusion about ‘shades of grey’.

          • J
            J says:

            I’ve read them.
            I’m approaching this as someone who has been through something similar, I just didn’t post publicly about it or tell anyone for this exact reason. I left room for shades of grey and I am happier for it. I also don’t approach by telling, I prefer a line of questioning. Although we have different styles and modes in communicating right now, I also am extending my love and support to Penelope. It’s just different from the way you are doing it.

          • Jeannie
            Jeannie says:

            I seem to remember the farmer pursued Penelope. She didn’t even know he existed until he contacted her.

    • Jay
      Jay says:

      The original bill for $30K, six months later, is now $35K. So he continued to float her even after she moved out.

      Obviously P cannot get a credit card in her own name, which makes her dependent on the farmer. He’s aware of that dependence but finally cut her off anyway. These days, that constitutes horrific abuse.

      • Jennifer
        Jennifer says:

        I always side-eyed that $35K bill. P said when they got together she had to agree that the Farmer would only pay the same utilities, property taxes, etc. as he always had, with no extra bills for herself and two children. Who expects a family of four to live on the same budget as a single person? Or who enters into a marriage refusing to share the cost of the other person’s children? Not an equal or committed relationship IMO. Did she present him with a bill for years of cooking, farm work or whatever she did for him?

    • Bailey
      Bailey says:

      “she devoted her life (and both sons’) to one child’s cello career, which is tantamount to devoting it to his future as a unicorn trainer.”

      Yes! Why is this? It seems unlikely P’s young son wants to play cello above all other activities that are with friends, closer to home, and cheaper. P seems like a loving mother, not a Tiger Mom, yet I always felt the cello lessons and long drives were nothing more than an attempt to distance her from a man and marriage she knew were all wrong. It’s easier to focus energy around the positive (cello) than the real (failed marriage, unicorn trainer).

      Here’s another thought: P, would you be moving forward more quickly with protecting yourself and your sons from an abusive and potentially murderous man if you didn’t have this blog? Are you intentionally drawing this out to create drama and something to write about? It’s not clear if you’re looking for advice/support from your audience, or just attention. Sorry, I know you’re going through a lot, yet your blog is a pattern, too, and is it serving you and your sons well?

      Nobody deserves to be abused. Trust your friends and the experts at the abuse center. I once worked with a seemingly normal and successful man who one night held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, but only after killing his wife and three kids.

      Your obligation is to protect yourself and your sons, not to “entertain” the blogosphere.

      • Bailey
        Bailey says:

        PS: I’m guessing The Farmer hates it when you blog about him and your marriage. Most spouses wouldn’t like this, and you probably wouldn’t like it either, because it wouldn’t be YOUR side of the story.

        So if you know this – that he hates it – why keep blogging about him? If he’s truly dangerous, why provoke him? Even if you think he’s chucked his Internet, don’t believe that, he hasn’t. He’s reading this, and it’s pissing him off.

        While it would NEVER be justified for him to hurt you or your sons, are you making this more likely by provoking him with these blogs?

          • Bailey
            Bailey says:

            Um, didn’t he try to run over her with a tractor?

            He’s abusive, which makes him dangerous.

            Don’t taunt a dangerous person.

    • HawkGirl21
      HawkGirl21 says:

      Lorrie, I’m in agreement with you on this. I’m so confused by the money aspect, which doesn’t seem to add up and also confused that people are screaming abuse about this. Penelope told the farmer that she wouldn’t require him to spend money on her lifestyle when she moved in with him and they seem to have an existing arrangement in place where she pays him. She’s admitted she’s spending more than she’s making and she’s also seems to be spending most of her time attending cello lessons with her child, so not sure how much income she is making. If my husband moved out, still owed me large sums of money for expenses he agreed to take on, and was continuing to use my credit cards, I think I’d call my bank and cancel those cards. Would that make me an abuser or a fool who shouldn’t have given my financially illiterate spouse access to may credit cards? It doesn’t say the farmer called the police on her, it just says that he called his bank to say that the charges weren’t his, so they were essentially fraudulent. Penelope acts as if she has no choice but to use his credit card, but I don’t buy that. Using his credit cards makes it easy for her to not give up the $1000 per month cello lessons and other expenses associated with them, even though she can’t afford them herself. She also mentions in passing that she owes money to her ex husband and he is somehow taking money that she paid to other people (not sure how that would even work), so there’s more to this story than the money she owes the farmer. It sounds like she’s gotten herself into a financial hole and is deflecting blame. Everyone needs to keep in mind that there are three sides (his, hers, and the truth) to every story and we’ve only heard her side. I used to read Penelope’s blog because I thought she gave good career advice, but now it seems as if she is always trying to make all of us into voyeurs to the unraveling of her personal life.

  19. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    In the UK, there is common-law spouses so if you live together >6 months at same address you automatically have rights. This would include long-term rights to the property even if he is the sole-owner, especially as you can prove ‘beneficial interests’ i.e. contributions you have made to the home. So that would entitle you to a share of the property if sold.

    I know this doesn’t apply to your situation or US law but the point is that I agree that the indicators are that the ‘bill’ is very off & a form of abuse. It doesn’t matter how entitled & hard-done by the Farmer feels, it doesn’t mean he can harass you in this way. He has opened the door bringing in the law in this way so good for you following the advice and getting the realisation that actually as much as he plays the victim, you are a victim too. And likely the bigger victim though I expect it is not so black and white.

    The whole situation is very complicated with lots of nuance. I hope you don’t have to go down a messy legal route, especially given all the relationships with kids etc. Good luck & stay strong.

    • Bos
      Bos says:

      FYI, the laws regarding common-law marriage vary from state to state in the US. Wisconsin does not recognize common-law marriage. About fifteen states do, with different periods and limitations.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth says:

      //In the UK, there is common-law spouses so if you live together >6 months at same address you automatically have rights. This would include long-term rights to the property even if he is the sole-owner, especially as you can prove ‘beneficial interests’ i.e. contributions you have made to the home. So that would entitle you to a share of the property if sold. //

      Sadly, this is not actually true. There is no recognition of common law marriage in the UK. If you buy a property with someone you will have property rights. If you rent a property with someone, you will not have rights if your name is not on the lease. If you have children with someone, the non-resident parent has to pay maintentance to you (and the children) until they are 18, unless the resident parent gets another partner/spouse and then maintenance is only payable for the children.

      I’m sorry that this is such a widespread belief. If the poster is not married, you may find this information helpful:

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        The citizens advice page is so odd to me being a new resident in the U.K. Have questions or disputes? Look to our rule book called citizens advice or go chat with someone at the desk of an office CA in every town.

        I get the need for order, but it is overboard. Do people really not know how to handle practical things here?

  20. Elmig
    Elmig says:

    Your dad is a jerk. So is the farmer. You can question or regret your behavior all you want but it won’t change that they’re jerks. Listen to the professionals. Get out, sign the papers, don’t go back. It’s not just ok but good to step back and take care of yourself. Self love is hard but your children deserve it. Take care Penelope.

  21. Mary Beth Williams
    Mary Beth Williams says:

    Penelope my heart goes out to you ❤️ I am sending you loads of love and prayers 🤗🤗. The best thing you can do is to love yourself so much and your kids – know that you deserve ALL the love in the world and NOT the kind of treatment that you have received from the farmer. I’m sorry that your dad is not more aware of this You can totally believe in yourself. It’s hard to come to terms with this kind of treatment when it sounds like he has tried to brainwash – you which is typical of an abuser. Remember abusers love to heap shame and guilt on their target – don’t take it you have nothing to feel ashamed or guilty about. Anyone trying to tell you that the farmer is worth going back to is not in touch with reality. You deserve to be with a man who treasures you and cherishes you and shows you in many ways I am so impressed with your courage in posting this You are worthy you are loved – you are here as a blessing and to be blessed Sending you a giant H U G so much love and many prayers sweetie 😘😉🤗❤️

  22. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    OK, so I now I am reading & learning alot about domestic abuse this morning. Things like: Leaving is a process..

    Also came across this article about ‘Domestic Violence in the Suburbs’ all about the special challenges for victims with affluent & privilege lives, e.g.

    Little support from family members. Family members tend to minimize the abuse because of the elevated social status and income of victims.

    Seems like Penelope is writing the book on domestic violence and the special challenges facing the homeschooling, high-performing, aspergic, previously-abused, sort-of-famous women.

  23. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    I always have a problem, because I see all sides of an issue.
    The abuse taking another form when there is physical distance hit home, because my ex used financial stuff to abuse us, eventually my boys and I were left homeless. Also, he turned toward my sons for his psychological abuse when I was no longer handy. So, I totally get the transference part.

    Also, when things finally split with me and my ex, it took a counselor awhile to convince me I was the victim of abuse. I was so used to it, I didn’t see it that way. Mine was far more psychological than physical. He got physical with me 2x in 27 years. So, I don’t feel like a physical abuse victim at all.

    I was drinking pretty heavily there at the end. I’m sure I pushed him over the edge more than a few times. Is this a case of me giving an abuser a pass? I don’t know. I was a pretty vicious asshole myself when I was drinking. It’s not always so clear who the victim is at times…..

    On the other hand, has the farmer been left up a creek by the financial moves P has made? As I recall, his wealth is more in his property and animals than in cash coming in. Perhaps he’s been left with a real financial problem on his hands and he’s trying to save the farm. I don’t know. I’d be freaked out too if my wife left, owed me $33,000, had my CC tied to her account and I had to use it myself to keep afloat. There are limits on cards. Now that the CC has been run up, is it a problem for him to make the payments? Perhaps that’s an issue. How is the farmer surviving financially? Did P’s leaving leave him up a creek?

    I think it’s hard to take sides when only one person gets to voice their side of the story here. I do feel bad for you P. I really do. But, I feel for the farmer as well. In some ways, it could look like he was used. It’s all perspective.

    • Jack
      Jack says:

      How the farmer is coping is not Penelope’s responsibility. Her responsibility is for herself and and her sons. They need to be in a safe place ASAP. Any debts between P and the farmer can be settled later.

      Suggesting otherwise is putting P and her sons in danger.

    • Deb
      Deb says:

      I agree, we’re only getting her side of the story. I’m not saying she wasn’t abused, BUT abuse can happen both ways

    • Jim Grey
      Jim Grey says:

      I identify with a lot of what you’re saying here. I was abused in my first marriage. I can’t entirely sort out my part in it, and there was a part in it that was mine. I’m not justifying or excusing what she did, I’m just saying that relationships are complex and I was a full participant in the dysfunction of that one. I didn’t cause her behavior, but I sure did behave badly myself. It is very hard to sort the two things out. What I came to was that her behavior was her behavior regardless of anything I might have done that triggered it, but when I did something awful (that ended up triggering her behavior) I had to own my own stuff.

  24. Jack
    Jack says:

    Penelope, don’t listen to the commenters who say there are ‘shades of grey’ and tons of nuance. This is a time of emergency and you need actionable steps.

    The shelter professionals don’t sit around pontificating the nuances and ‘shades of grey’ in domestic abuse cases. They act fast to remove the victims from a violent situation.

    So many people enable abuse. They were abused themselves and don’t even know they’re doing it, and even think it is helpful. Don’t listen to them and listen to the professionals instead.

      • Jack
        Jack says:

        The title of this post is “Get outside input to identify your patterns”.

        Penelope received outside input from the domestic violence experts who are trained to understand and implement measures for safety. They consider this abuse requiring a restraining order.

        What’s the problem here? Does Penelope need to ‘consider all sides’ during what is considered an emergency situation? Act now and figure the rest later. There could be major consequences otherwise.

        You are enabling abuse, and it is best you reflect on that. I don’t believe you mean to do it, but you are doing it nonetheless.

        • Cindy
          Cindy says:

          It’s possible he is also in an “emergency” situation, with her using his CC’s to set herself up in another city while he tries to keep the farm, his livelihood, running with a financial deficit.

          • Jack
            Jack says:

            What are your actionable steps for P and her sons then?

            Oh that’s right, you have none.

          • Wendy
            Wendy says:

            Then he can do his own blog post on the matter and people can give him feedback accordingly. He does have his own blog; it’s public, and nothing is stopping him from airing out his side of things.

            Penelope’s business is not his business anymore. Whatever happened between them, it’s clear that she needs to establish and maintain distance, and make sure she and her children are taken care of.

        • J
          J says:

          Maybe the title of the post is to get MORE outside input.. from the readers. Not authorities.

  25. mali
    mali says:

    I really pray for the best for you. I never thought that i’d learn so much about abuse and the different forms and how to recognize abuse in my own life. It is hard to see your life clearly no matter how self aware or self knowledge you have.

  26. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Obviously we are looking at this in different ways, that darn perspective thing again! I’ve said what I wanted to say. Peace.

    • Jack
      Jack says:

      Yes, I’m looking at it from the perspective of keeping a mother and her sons safe.

      Everything else can be figured out later.

      I don’t know why you are repelled by this line of thinking. I hope all is well with you and that if you are (god forbid) ever in an emergency situation, that someone will empower you to keep you safe, not talk you into pointless considerations that keep you static.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        How is P not safe? She is half the country away from the guy.

        To me their relationship seems mostly passive aggressive. She wasn’t arrested for the CC. He makes threats, she moves cities, they use the kids as permanent guilt cards, they both can’t decide on a living scenario that works for both of them, they won’t break up, they won’t stay together, she moved because of the son now she moved because of the farmer, it all flip and flops so much it’s not surprising to me that they are both giving as much as they are taking right now.

        Why does she still speak and or take advice from her father? Or mother? Good riddance. You can only do so much to help someone that won’t actually help themselves; case in point she’s not filing anything against the farmer or taking the ‘professionals’ advice.

        • V
          V says:

          Passive aggressive describes it exactly. While she despises Trump, like Trump she has a lengthy history of stiffing creditors and employees, failing to pay taxes, etc. Never once has she expressed any regret over that. In this case, she admitted she owed the farmer the money. No problem, $30K is chump change for me, she said. Six months later, the bill not only hasn’t been paid, it’s up to $35k. So the farmer finally loses patience and cuts off her credit. What a mean, dirty trick! her readers cry. Now she has her justification for walking away from the debt, which she never really intended to repay.

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            I don’t think anyone would look kindly on the debt not being repayed because of how many times she insisted she would pay it and let the readers know the hardship she was putting the farmer under. it seems like she promised to pay it back to get access to funds- but farmer isn’t an investor and maybe didn’t understand her mentality about optional payback. It’s not rocket science that moving is extremely expensive, and he should understand that. The main issue is legally she has no actual marriage protection in this.

            Then again, if the farmer didn’t see this coming with their history then he is in denial and should have prevented the CCs from being used in the first place. They just had a car repoed beforehand, so this is not something he hasn’t experienced.

            Overall, this lifestyle with kids doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I understand small biz (many people in my family have one) and the hardships of keeping cos afloat. It doesn’t work well unless at least one person is working 24/7. So to run a biz, and do full time kid activities without the farmer was always going to be extremely hard: financially, mentally, emotionally. It seems to be all catching up. Can the kid do Juilliard as a boarding option? Does she have any ther practical support? Can the farmer suck it up and fly out more often? Or the bio dad? The CC thing is annoying, but not helpful. Can the family members join her for a little bit so she can get into a stable rhythm? Just some thoughts.

  27. The Farmer Sucks
    The Farmer Sucks says:

    The Farmer is a pathetic excuse for a male and has always been a pathetic excuse for a male. Your life will be so much better in the long run without him. Take care of yourself

  28. Nicole
    Nicole says:


    Your post’s title is “Get outside input to identify your patterns,” but please don’t consider your father as a source of outside input. From my point of view, he offers the perspective of an abuser rather than someone trained to recognize abuse. Rely instead on those professionals from the DV center. They have been trained in it, know what it looks like, see it every day. They called it in your case. Please trust them and know that what you’re experiencing is indeed abuse. We can rationalize our significant other’s behavior all we want. It doesn’t change what happened. Or what could happen next. Be safe.

  29. kate
    kate says:

    Come on everyone. She left him and moved to another state. She should not be using his credit cards. She already owed him thousands.
    I don’t believe he abused her. Honestly, we only have her word. We don’t actually know these people. But what I do know in reading these blogs is that Penelope is unstable.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      We don’t just have her word, she posted a photo of her bruises. I don’t really understand the situation with the cards (if it is her PayPal account, she should be paying the bills and not him) but a lawyer heard the entire story and agreed with her.

      Whatever the case, it would be best for both to get free of each other and move on.

  30. kate
    kate says:

    this is pulled from another Penelope blog post:

    I am telling my husband that I promise I’ll pay him back and I’m paying my developer for my startup with money earmarked for corn, and I’m in therapy from the stress of knowing that probably my last marriage fell apart because I used family finances to support my startup.

    And now it looks like I’m doing it again.

    I see familiar signs: My husband in bed at night, unable to sleep because all he can think about is my startup’s insatiable need for cash.
    He is pissed. He doesn’t like that I make jokes about owing him money. He bounced a check and it’s the first check he’s ever bounced in his whole life.

    It’s hard for me to get upset about bouncing a check because I bounced so many checks that I stopped writing them; if you have a hard time keeping track of checks, it’s really hard to keep track of bounced checks. You have this feeling like it’s raining bank statements.

    I see, though, that I’m ruining his life. His life is about financial stability. He owns land. He is not liquid. And my financial life is so liquid it practically evaporates.
    Dear Farmer….all you need are these blog posts to prove who is right.

    • Cindy
      Cindy says:

      Kate, I remember this. That is why I feel as I do, that we don’t know the whole story. If the shoe were on the other foot and P was tossing and turning all night because of the financial irresponsibility of the farmer, him spending money she needed for her business and life and her being worried it will affect her adversely…..people would still call him the bad guy. I hate the double standard.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        Here’s the thing. They are breaking up and it is not amicable and he is not he husband so he is now an ex boyfriend. She has been using his credit cards since she moved away. I’d have issues if that was wha my ex was doing as well and if action wasn’t stopped after conversations (he already sent a bill) and 6 months go by and they are still using my CCs- I’d call the bank and cancel the card (most likely what happened). I think P needs money for her bills and is panicking.

    • Missy
      Missy says:

      Uh, okay. So owing someone money means they can emotionally and physically abuse you. Gotcha.

      It’s very stressful to have money issues, but there are lots of things that are stressful. Most people don’t beat the crap out of their spouse for that.

      • Jim C.
        Jim C. says:

        Owing somebody money and taking no steps to pay it back means the creditor is justified in sending dunning notices,justified in hiring a collection agency, and even justified in calling you a deadbeat and canceling your credit.
        WTH, she’s in Pennsylvania and he’s in Wisconsin. It doesn’t look as if physical abuse is in the cards. Emotional abuse? See my first paragraph.
        To an outsider (me) the comparison with Silicon Valley looks very apt. Penelope spends hundreds of dollars every time she flies to Los Angeles to get her hair done. She treats it as a business expense. She makes big money from lectures and is still broke. Lots of money or no money. Net-net, it looks like no money.
        A farmer (not just The Farmer — any farmer who’s not a big agribusiness corporation) always lives close to the edge, has little liquidity, and has to pinch pennies. If a crop fails, the farmer has no income. But if there’s a bumper crop, prices drop like a rock. I can see how The Farmer regards her lifestyle and apparently spendthrift ways as reckless and irresponsible.
        No, I don’t maintain this is an excuse for physical abuse. It’s not. Let’s just not conflate debt collection with emotional abuse.

  31. Gayle S
    Gayle S says:

    Anyone who has kept up with this saga knows Dude has issues. It’s been clear for a long time that he is an abuser. Still I understand the “why” behind staying and trying to make it work. Until you can’t. I understand because my story is a variation of it. I’m glad you left. I don’t feel you owe the Farmer the money. I’m pretty sure it’s not a legal contract. He’s doing it to try and re-establish control and pull you back into the dynamic (unhealthy but the only way many abusers know how to do relationship). But you have to do what you think is best. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t or won’t be able to have a healthy relationship in the future. But to do so, you have a lot of work to do to get healthy. So do I. Thanks to the commenter who mentioned looking into Co-Dependents Anonymous. I’m doing so myself.

  32. Diane Ott
    Diane Ott says:

    Dear Penelope,
    My heart hurts for you so much. I think the post from Muriel(?) about Coda is a good answer. Please, get help. You are a wonderful mother and with your history, that could have gone in the opposite direction. Please, take care of yourself.
    Diane Ott

  33. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Please seek therapy. The sexual abuse from your childhood has impacted you in ways that you certainly seem open to writing about, which is great, but most of your actions say that you have are far from having actually worked through how being sexually abused by your father impacts you. Until you actually work through the unconscious ways that being abused by your father has affected you, grieve the loss of a normal, healthy childhood, and start to look at yourself as someone who needs to make some changes in her thoughts and behavior, this entire cycle of dysfunction that you have had to experience (eating disorder, domestic abuse, etc) will continue. Please find a good therapist that works with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

    • J.E.
      J.E. says:

      Sarah, I agree 100%. Penelope has said before that she feels like she’s too old to still be depressed over her childhood, but that’s not something you just get over with age. I think she has enough self awareness to see how her childhood abuse is still affecting her. I can’t understand why she still maintains contact with her father. Her parents are divorced so she can still keep in contact with her mother if she chooses. I also think she may be feeling loads of guilt that she put her sons through a version of what she witnessed as a child in her family when she’s tried so hard to make their lives different/better than what she had.

    • Evy MacPhee
      Evy MacPhee says:

      What she said!

      Yes, yes, yes!

      It takes a long time and a good therapist to work through ALL of the aftermath. ALL of the issues.

      You deserve healing and your boys deserve a healed mother.

  34. Me
    Me says:

    From over here, it looks like both of you mistreated each other. It’s not excusable, but it can happen. I’ve been in that boat too. It’s very sad for everyone involved.

    We don’t know the full story of both sides, but even if he was a monster, it would still be ethical to pay him back. Form a plan and start paying him back and make right on your part.

    • Lauren
      Lauren says:

      Disagree! When it comes to dealing with someone who has abused you, ethics go out the window. What you have to be guided by is what is HEALTHY for you. And you are honestly not the best person to determine that, because you are in the middle of it (when in doubt, follow the advice of your title and seek an outside perspective).

      The farmer jeopardized his rights by committing this abuse. If he wanted the money back and they had a disagreement about how exactly it would happen, there are plenty of healthy ways to solve a disagreement that don’t include this bullshit.

      Penelope – please try not to listen listen to these people bossing you around about how “there are shades of grey” and “it takes two.”
      That is pure bullshit, and they are enabling poor behavior. I know it’s probably hard to not take what they say seriously, because they are echoing the farmer, your dad, and even – at times – your own inner voice.

      Listen to the ones encouraging personal work (therapy, CODA, domestic abuse support center, etc.)

  35. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    P, be done with the farmer. File the paperwork that was recommended. Yes, this relationship really and truly is over. OVER. Sorry that it means another “marriage” broke up, but it was not healthy for you and your sons. Forget what your father told you. In fact his comment shows he’s still trying to have an abusive hold over you based on what you’ve said about him in the past. Just be with your sons. You’re a single mom. So what? Would you rather them be witness to an abusive relationship longer than they already have? He’s not a role model they need. You are capable, you don’t need him.

  36. meistergedanken
    meistergedanken says:

    If you fail at this marriage and divorce (again), then you will certainly spend the rest of your life alone. All the “internet hugs” you are now getting will be cold comfort 5, 10, 15 years from now. The man you currently have obviously has flaws, but so do you – and let’s be honest, at this point in your life, this is the best relationship you can hope for.

    If you’re OK with the outcome of being by yourself (especially when the boys grow up and go out on their own), then that’s fine and by all means, divorce away. But if you are not, it would behoove you to carefully consider your next steps, and re-examine why the current situation is so bad. Sure, the lawyers and the members of the domestic violence industry want you to formally leave your husband (you’ve already physically abandoned him), and all your readers who have unquestioningly accepted your carefully curated version of events want you to as well, but that’s all institutional bias and a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

        • Jennifer
          Jennifer says:

          Seriously, every Penelope post about the Farmer ends up with a comment section full of time-travelling Fred Flintstones. What is with all of this “look out, you’ll never get another man” and “well, you did really annoy him so what do you expect” and “there are shades of grey” baloney. I’m not saying the Farmer is some mustache-twirling villain, but as a couple they’re obviously wildly incompatible, bring out the worst in each other, and need to split up and move on. There are worse things than being single, and a city gal (LA hairstylist, NY business meetings, world-class cello lessons, etc.) being isolated in the middle of Wisconsin in an abusive, dysfunctional relationship is one of them.

  37. a
    a says:

    It seems that he has always had doubts about your judgment, [1-but managed to accommodate]. [2-Be careful]. [3-He’s a good man] who can deal with [4-your quirks]. This is not easy to come by.”

    2-causing fear

  38. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    It’s an abusive relationship! Even if both were mutually abusive to each other, that’s not healthy. The boys don’t need to see that as a model for relationships. Best to get out and end the cycle of making each other miserable in their full view.

  39. liz
    liz says:

    I don’t think you should rely on your parents’ advice when it comes to domestic abuse. Please consult others who can be more objective, like Melissa, lawyers etc.

  40. Priscilla
    Priscilla says:


    Sending you all my love and support. Let us know how we can help you. We want to.

    -The Interior Designer from Maine that you helped so much.

  41. 499lake
    499lake says:

    One’s credit score is incredibly important in our economy. If you don’t know what your’s is, then go to Credit Karma for a free approximation or pay $50 to Equifax for a more exact score.
    You need to find out your score and how much negative information is in it.
    You need to raise your credit score. If you can’t get a credit card on your own at this time, then you can build your score by obtaining a secured card, they are offered by several banks (go to Then pay on time religiously and always keep your cc balance below 30%. If a relatively short time, the bank will approve you for an unsecured card. Since you travel for business, you need to secure your card with a sufficiently large amount to cover plane fairs and a few days in a hotel.
    If you don’t have a checking account in Pennsylvania, then open one ASAP. You don’t need to be a resident to do so. But you do need a valid ID to open an account. Open your account at a bank near your home so they will get to know you personally. I strongly suggest that you pay for groceries, etc in cash rather than a debit card because it is hard to keep track of your expenditures with plastic.
    I am suggesting that you find someone to pay your bills. These type of folks are called Daily Money Managers. They generally have an hourly rate. Also, if you trust Melissa with your money, then she could act as a bill payer.
    You should have savings that equal at least three months of expenses, six months is better. But that amount may not be feasible at this point. I used to live from consulting check to consulting check. But I now save 10% of each check’s gross amount. Knowing that I can cover my expenses for several months has given me a sense of security. My credit score has increased from the high 500’s to the low 700s in about 18 months. So it is possible to become more secure by consistently saving a small amount and paying your bills on-time.
    You might benefit from advice from nonprofit credit counseling. If you intend to repay the farmer even in small amounts, the nonprofit might be able to establish a repayment plan. However, your financial needs must be your highest priority.
    Of course, you should pare down your monthly expenses if at all possible. Also keeping track of your expenditures will give you insight into your spending patterns.
    IMO, spending other’s money and using their credit cards has been a passive-aggressive way to retaliate for needs that are unmet in my current relationship with a narcissist who attempts to control me through emotional abuse.

  42. sara
    sara says:

    You should be shielding your sons from all of this, instead you’re doing nearly the exact opposite, publishing the thick of it. You give off the persona that you’re someone who always puts her sons first, but in the weeks and months that will shape your sons for decades to come you’re doing it so very wrong, stuck in a mentality where you feel attacked and are capable only of fight back harder than the attacker is attacking. That’s what this entire blog post is, after all. You wrote it for him.

    You don’t need to lawyer up to fight pettiness. You don’t need to outdo every overreaction with a bigger overreaction. Talk to him, be reasonable. That doesn’t mean get back together. It doesn’t even mean consider it. It doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t deserve, or how crazy he is, or you are. A calm ending is best for the boys.

    • Maya
      Maya says:

      This x 1000.

      Forget the marital psychodrama and who did what to whom, and focus on your main job now: To disentangle yourself with as little drama and expense as possible, and to facilitate a good relationship between the boys and their (step)dad going forward.

      Take a few simple, obvious steps: Delete his credit cards from your accounts, figure out how much money you owe him (including any expenses put on his card after the split), talk to him directly and work out a timetable for repayment.

      If he wants to visit the boys, great! They probably miss him. Schedule a spa or museum day for yourself and let the boys have a good time with someone who has shared their childhood and cares about them.

      Overall, seek to minimize the negative impact on your kids by digging deep and being your best self. If you can get through this divorce without causing undue harm to your boys, and by being a strong role model who takes the high road when life gets tough, you will be so proud of yourself. It honestly will be one of your life’s great achievements.

      Good luck and best wishes.

      • Liz
        Liz says:

        I respectfully disagree. The boys should not be exposed to the Farmer again until the couple has officially split and has made it clear that they will not be back together, and can just be friends. As someone who grew up in limboland when my parents separated until their final divorce five years later, this mixed-signals shit messes you up for the rest of your life, even more than the split. Kids know. I knew. The boys know. Make a clean break, cold turkey. If Penelope doesn’t do it on her own, watch the farmer do it when he finds a new woman. I know we all think he can’t find a new woman, as he pales in comparison to Penelope in terms of panache, but watch us all be surprised when it goes this way.

  43. B. Noir
    B. Noir says:

    Wow… You are the only blog I follow that i actually read. I was moved by this post. Thank you. When someone has quirks like you, and yes me (I have quirks too) that effect how we process information it can be grand to be such a different thinker. A gift even. But it can also do a number on those around us and us in the day to day life. I’m not taking sides because I feel a bit like Cindy. There are two sides and being a quirky girl myself I know I can add my shit to a relationship and make it tough for the other. Two people together on the same path are a force of strength but when two people separate that strength is gone. My first husband was physically abusive and honestly I was no saint to the destruction of the end of the relationship. My ex and I after 23 years still care for each other and raised a beautiful daughter. I sit today on the verge of ending a 22 year relationship with my lover because of emotional abuse and gaslighting (new term in psychology for emotional abuse I read about recently, fits my life to a tee). Even as I plan to end this relationship my heart screams no no no but my brain is saying yes it’s time. This relationship isnt one sided. I have an active part in its decline. I still love him and setting this relationship to its finale is so hard. But reading this post somehow shows me it the right thing to do. Unraveling it means I’m going to be losing some of my comforts, as things get intertwined along the way. He has emotionally hurt me. I don’t stand here thinking I have done nothing to him along the way. Hell I have probably emotionally abused him too. But what I got from this post is take care of me. Know I have to keep things in perspective, and I’m going to try to end the 22 years as civilly as possible. I loved him for 22 years. Alot of patterned behaviors are at work here and it’s taken input from others to say My quirks don’t give another person the right to hold my heart hostage to a relationship that doesn’t serve me well any longer. While abuse is never going to be ok no matter how we spin it as humans its hard to not say at least for me I contributed to it. I AM A HAND FULL, A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH AND I AM STUBBORN STRONG WILLED, DO NOT ACCEPT NO WITH GRACE, AND I AM NOT AN EASY PERSON TO BULLY. Yet I have my heart bursting with pain knowing what I once had with this man us going to cone to an end and it hurts. Quirky people can get lost in their own mental gymnastics when trying to sift and make sense of something so close to them that seeing reality is impossible. I am grateful for this post. I admire your courage to share your life with the world and I’m a better person knowing that I’m not completely crazy in my own quirks. Others are somehow managing success in life. This is a low in that process but it’s ok. The circle a life size if I didn’t learn the lesson I needed to learn with this relationship this go around another one will come along and I’ll get to do it all over again with a different person different place same shit. This time though I think I’m going to try to learn the lesson that I was supposed to learn maybe the first go-around in the first relationship and now my second relationship so maybe the third one will be the charm and I’ll get my happily ever after eventually.

    Stay strong…. we can only live each day as it comes.

    B. Noir

  44. Liobov
    Liobov says:

    Everybody seem to debate whether the Farmer is good or bad guy deep inside. What people are forgetting is that one doesn’t have to be evil to behave in unacceptable manner.

    As for your father’s advice… Imagine your son came home and complained of a guy bullying him.

    Would you have told him “I know he is an ass sometimes but that guy has made a real effort to put up with your crazy Asperger shit. You should try harder to be his friend and forgive him”?

    If you don’t accept any mistreatment off your kids, why do you accept lesser for yourself?

  45. Teresa Dieter
    Teresa Dieter says:

    You are a good person. You are a terrific mom. You have stable people who care about you. Don’t worry about the others. You are on the right track. There will continue to be bumps and valleys, but when you turn your back on domestic violence and begin facing the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable, your children, your children’s children and their children will live easier lives. And so will you.

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