In May of 2018, Rick’s parents went on vacation and left Carol and Rick to run the stores on their own. Carol told me that Rick had actually stepped up and was doing his job in this period. I’m sure it was only his latest cycle of damage control after pushing Carol too far, as was the pattern over the last seven years.
When I caught them in my bed, Rick went on a deeper downward spiral than usual, to my delight. Carol was left to run all the stores in her own while Phil and Janice were still on vacation and Rick mostly stayed at his home, or his drug dealer’s house. Probably both.
When Phil and Janice came back from vacation, they praised Carol and Rick for a job well done and notified them that they would now be semi-retiring and leaving the two of them to keep doing what they’re doing. And so, Carol kept working her and his jobs while living in her parents’ basement, alone and miserable.
I made the situation worse by constantly telling her, in my anger at her undue praise for a job well done in the owners’ absence, that they were going to find out the truth about their star employee’s activities with their married son (during work hours, no less) and that she needed to confess before they found out in their own.
I didn’t mention much in my blog about that first month of separation because I didn’t start writing about it until the second month when we were beginning to reconcile, but let me tell you, I really let Carol have it. She was already struggling to make it through each day at work. Rick barely even came in to work and when he did, he refused to talk to her. After a few weeks of telling Carol that it’s just a matter of time before her bosses find out, I went a step further and told her that someone who knows Phil and Janice personally knows what she did. I was telling the truth, but what I didn’t say was that the person in question was a friend I had reconnected with and I told him to keep the information to himself for the time being.
Carol was still in the affair fog, or ‘the dark cloud’ as I described it, and couldn’t understand why her best friend had abandoned her. Why wasn’t he talking to her? Why was she stuck doing both their jobs while he was still at home with his wife and she was suffering the worst of it, being back at her parents’ house?
Rick then decided that he would take a leave of absence, an illness or injury being the excuse.
Throughout that first month, although I made it a point to remind Carol of how horrible of a person she was at every opportunity, we had a few rare moments of deep conversations about our feelings, mostly because I didn’t know who else to talk to about it. Carol felt she had no one to talk to either and was glad to have these few heart to hearts.
I also urged Carol to see a therapist. I told her that as a mother, she needed to get her shit together and be a better person. You don’t set out to destroy your marriage, family and job by sleeping with a jackass that put your pregnancy at risk unless you’ve got serious mental issues, was the way I put it. I could call it tough love but really, every opportunity to hurt her with my words, I took. However, I was quite serious about it too. She needed professional help and I was going to stay on her case about it until she got it.
Carol also suggested that I see a professional too, which only set me off on a tirade about all I’ve done to keep this family together while she did all she could to destroy it.
Carol began to see a counsellor while I remained stubborn. Although she was beginning to see the friendship with Rick as something darker, she didn’t have to deal with him at work most of the time so she was able to continue her work there.
During the second month of our separation, our relationship began to improve. We started having more deep conversations with each other about life, during which she dished out some dirt on Rick which just made her affair with him make even less sense. She was still very confused but her remorse from the beginning was clear. It was remorse for hurting a good man that she never believed was deserving of what she she did to him. She never wanted to hurt me but she was so certain that, although she loved me, she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. In this second month, however, she was having a hell of a time trying to figure out why she ever thought she didn’t want to be with me.
Eventually, we began to test the waters of being a couple again. It was summer now, and Rick was still away from work for most of the time due to sickness, mental health, family vacations, whatever excuse he had. The important thing to Carol was that she didn’t have to deal with Rick, who she was now furious at for abandoning her.
As Carol kept away from Rick, saw her counsellor, and talked with co-workers, friends, and me, she began to see more and more how toxic her relationship with him was. Through guidance, she was beginning to see the manipulative tactics and abuse. This was very hard for her to swallow and she still continues to struggle with the humiliation and embarrassment of being used like she was.
Carol was hanging onto her dream job with the hopes that Rick’s parents would see that he needs to move on. After all, he spent the majority of June and July not working at all. He even got taken away by the police due to suicide threats. Unfortunately, he talked his way out of the psychiatric ward and in August he started coming back to work on occasion.
This is when Carol began to search for other jobs, hoping something similar to her current position would come up. She also tried to gauge the situation with an owner of multiple stores in a town nearby to see if it was possible that she could take up the same position for him. Unfortunately, she couldn’t officially speak with him about working for him without quitting her current job first. She couldn’t even ask him about the possibility without it getting back to Phil and Janice and causing a situation.
It had been recommended to Carol by her counsellor and our marriage counsellor that she should move on from this job. I didn’t push it because I was just as hopeful as Carol that Rick’s recent stretch of absences and unhinged behaviour would eventually get him to realize that this isn’t the job for him, or get his parents to realize that for him. Sure, he was back now in the loosest sense, but he would be gone again soon enough.
Carol and I went on our weekend getaway while Phil and Janice were also gone for the weekend. This left Rick to oversee the stores, a job he would surely fail at. And he did. A manager contacted Carol in tears. She was overwhelmed at her store and contacted Rick for assistance. Rick showed up and looked around for a few minutes before heading back out to whatever extra curricular activities he was into that day. Carol had to contact him to get him to go do his job while we were out of town together.
Carol brought this latest work incident to Phil and finally told him of the years of Rick’s incompetence that have left Carol doing both of their jobs on many occasions. She was now done covering for him and notified Phil that not only her but at least three other managers are prepared to find work elsewhere if they had to continue dealing with him. She also mentioned a number of examples of harassment by him, but left out the sexual harassment.
With that, at the end of August, Rick was removed from his position by his parents, and his parents found themselves unable to semi-retire. Carol and her three managers continued working together and it was great, better than her job ever was. Rick still tried to make appearances at the stores and was kicked out and lectured by his father on one occasion.
It wasn’t quite a month later when Phil told Carol that he had to let his son come back to work. Carol cried and hyperventilated, telling Phil that Rick is a person she cannot be around. Phil assured her that he would keep him in the office and she would not need to have any direct contact with him. Carol began to look for jobs again. It was clear that as long as she worked for Phil and Janice, Rick would be in the picture, no matter how much he screwed up.
Even worse, Phil had not been telling Janice about any of the drama going on with Rick at work. She didn’t think Rick was doing anything too bad and wanted to keep her son at work, while Phil knew enough to know his son was bad for his business and has been hoping he would, through not so subtle hints, realize that he should move on and find something else to do with his life.
Good luck convincing a good-for-nothing piece-of-shit to stop getting handed free money and instead go work somewhere full-time.
At that point we were near the end of October. We had a huge, expensive family vacation coming up at the beginning of December, then Carol was certain to get a decent Christmas bonus. I encouraged her to hang around to get her well-earned bonus and neither of us wanted to have to deal with her searching for a job and worrying about money during the Christmas season.
For most of that time, Carol only had to see Rick during her weekly meeting with the owners. She did not have him included in emails and she blocked his number on her phone.
In December, Carol got her bonus and a raise. She then began to doubt whether she could leave the job when Phil and Janice gave her so much more money. I told her what I thought of them and their money but I decided not to push the issue of leaving her job. I would wait and see what decision she would make in the new year.
Then it was January and Carol was becoming more serious about the possibility of quitting. Rick was still around and starting to get more involved in the stores again in spite of being told that he was to do office work only. Janice was still nearly completely in the dark about her son’s behaviour at work.
A little over a week ago, Rick cornered a female manager in her office and ‘apologized’ for his behaviour and promised that he was coming back to his job ‘full force’ and would be there full-time again within the month. The manager told this to Carol, who decided that after Phil and Janice’s upcoming week off, she would resign. The manager talked to Phil privately about the incident with Rick, while Janice grilled Carol about whether or not that manager was quitting. Carol finally said, “No one wants to work with Rick,” which shocked and appalled Janice, who had no idea why people didn’t want to work with her son. Phil promised that Rick would not be coming back to work in the stores, but it was clear that Phil had no control over his son.
Last week, Rick broke some very strict rules regarding the money at work and was not punished, further proving that he is unfireable. Early this week, a notice was sent to all the managers that Rick is to be included in all future communications. Not only was he unfireable, he was also getting back into the day to day running of the stores. Carol decided she can wait no longer.
On Tuesday, Carol handed in her resignation to Phil and Janice. Their reaction was absolutely disgusting. It included scolding her for all the money they gave her and all the time off they’ve allowed her, as if earning money and vacation time was a privilege. Even worse they asked, “Did you and Rick have an affair? Because if you did, you need to get over it and leave your personal issues at home!” Considering it started at work with Rick using his power there to commit a sexual crime, it’s not an issue you can leave at home. They don’t know that part but still, they were way, fucking WAY out of line.
Phil later apologized for his reaction and Carol told him he needed to tell his wife/co-owner all the information he had not been sharing with her about Rick. Carol also begged that they not tell Rick that she has resigned until after they come back from vacation because she’s afraid of him and what he’ll do if he knows she’s leaving.
Today, Phil and Janice have left for a week and Carol has to have Rick unblocked on her phone while they are gone. It’s disgusting, I know, but she’s taking all the precautions she can. She shows me all communication from him on her phone and plans to be at whatever store he isn’t at throughout the day.
Judging by Rick’s communications thus far, he seems to be in damage control mode, being cautious and overly friendly. He is likely trying to slowly re-establish a friendship, starting with including ‘harmless’ comments like “how’s it going?” in his business communications. We have a bunch of plans in place to ensure Carol is safely at a distance from him but it’s a really stressful and unfair situation to be in for the last stretch before complete freedom from that family.
Carol has several job interviews coming up. There is no hope of making anywhere near the salary she began making with her final promotion, but her, and our, happiness is worth the pay cut.