Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trophy Wife Plot Twist

Now there's a tongue twister - "trophy wife plot twist."  Can you say that ten times, real fast?  I'll bet you don't want to.  I don't.  I had to live with it as a threat for 8 years. 

It was August of 1991.  The weekend after my 35th birthday to be exact.  My ex husband and I were in Pebble Beach, California - at the Pebble Beach Concourse D' Elegance, the ultimate of all classic car exhibitions.  We were walking the grounds as private guests, among other car collectors.  The famous and infamous were among us.  We were included in the top echelon of the collector car hobby, and we were just starting to get involved.  As we walked the golf course grounds one evening, in between being served champagne and caviar by intermittent waiters with white glove service, I noticed how many of the men brought their daughters and grand daughters.  Innocently, I made a comment out loud.

My ex husband immediately expressed words of annoyance.  He told me how stupid I was - and that the younger females with the financially successful men....were their mistresses, girlfriends, or second wives.  I remember feeling dumbfounded.  I lived quite a sheltered life in many ways - and never really saw this before.  As my ex husband demeaned me for my reference of assuming they were happy families together on a vacation, he turned to meet my gaze, and looked me right in the eye.  He said that was going to be him.  He said he wanted a trophy wife and he was going to find one.  Trophy wife.  I had never heard it before.  Then he elaborated on it - all in a matter of minutes, my life turned upside down again....I felt a plot twist coming on.  I was an abused woman, having already sustained numerous physical injuries from beatings, but this was going to be something that I would not know how to survive.  I feared for my children.

Bob Levine, the ex, told me he was going to find a woman who needed him.  He further explained how it was best for him to have a younger woman who "came from nothing" , was uneducated, unworldly and would appreciate anything he threw her way. He especially wanted a woman who was in his own word - desperate. Bob Levine, the abusive narcissist, wanted to be worshipped.  I did not fit this bill.  I was one year older than him....and although I obeyed him most of the time (yes, I am using that word obey), I doted on our two sons.  I never did, never would and never could worship Bob Levine! And coming from a prosperous family in my own right, I grew up with luxuries.  A lifestyle of the rich and famous was not new for me.

1991 was the first time I heard that threat.  And it was not to be the last.  We became more involved in the car hobby, joining the Classic Car Club of America and going on trips called caravans - all over the United States.  The more we participated in their events, the more Bob threatened me with his desire for a trophy wife.  I just wanted to keep my family together at all costs.  My sons always came first.  It just so happens that a majority of the CCCA members have those "trophy wives!"  Bob never loved collecting the classic cars like I did. My favorite was our 1933 1006 Custom Dietrich Packard Convertible Sedan.  I loved loved loved that car.  Bob was extremely jealous of that car!  Every time I "acted up", he would threaten to sell it.  So, as we took classic automobiles on the road and to car shows, Bob was able to try and scare me - with an uncertain future.  

I came to dread that most famous of car shows - that Pebble Beach event which still takes place every August. We attended for several years, even had our cars in the show.  I'm proud to say my Packard was in the same class as a Packard that Jay Leno enrolled. The best of the best in the car hobby attended. the cars were superb, like rolling art.  And it was where the men were the most flamboyant with their young counterparts.  It enabled Bob to  hurt me where it hurts most - in threatening my life with my children.  My sense of security as a Mom was questioned as he would point to the younger women with stepchildren almost their own ages.  I reacted by withdrawing much of the time - realizing that my exhusband was cruel enough and more than capable of throwing me away like yesterday's garbage.  I was never going to put him on a pedestal for beating the daylights out of me, locking me in bathrooms and closets, and controlling even the food I ate.  No, he was not going to get his worship from me.  I save "worship" for my religious faith.  

As the years proceeded, he would be chasing other women - younger women.  And I just tried to survive.  I knew about his secretary (young, came from less fortunate background, uneducated) who met all his criteria.  Bob's cousin, who worked at Foodirect - the ex's business, told me about their affair.  Then Bob's own brotherinlaw confirmed it.  With his family's intervention, the affair ended.  Only to lead to another.

Janet was Bob's sister's sisterinlaw.  I know this may be hard to follow - but it felt almost like incest.  Janet had socialized with our family for years.  She was much younger than me.  She was married to a man who openly cheated on her.  All I heard for years was "poor Janet" as my former motherinlaw was privy to the saga that was the Torre family.  Bob's younger sister, Debbie, was married to Janet's brother, Mark Pohl.  Eventually, Bob would bring her food from Foodirect, delivering it at night - because her husband had left her alone again, periodically with her young son.  So picture this - my ex husband telling everyone he was doing a good deed by bringing this helpless young scorned woman food.  Right.  And I have a bridge to sell you.  It was already into the year 1997.  I had been forewarned.  Janet would appreciate any crumbs my ex threw her way, she never even graduated high school, she loved to get high and experiment with recreational drugs (something I would not do in all the years Bob tried to force me to)....Janet was putty in Bob Levine's hands. 

By the mid 1990's, I had already contacted the local police regarding domestic violence situations.  I was growing as a woman in so many ways. And I was learning about abuse, not just living in it. I did not know it then, but Bob and Janet sneaking around at the "lakehouse" in Mahopac, meeting in restaurants saying that it was just a coincidence...did me a favor. Janet had another baby, a *daughter, during this tumultuous time. It would be part of a catalyst - for me to get out.

My involvement with the car hobby pretty much expired by the late '90's as friends never liked my exhusband. Bob was boastful and showy.  Self centered and cocky.  You would think he would fit right in with the other show offs - but narcissists are competitive.  And they don't play well together! Too many egos involved.

By the late 1990's, the abuse became unbearable. The violence had escalated - especially when both sons were in sleep away camp and the household staff was on vacation.  Summers were dreaded.  Bob had even started threatening me with his guns. On March 22, of 1998, I knew the end was near. It was around 9 pm in the evening.  A night like most others, except it was my younger son's birthday.  I heard crying coming from his bedroom, as he lay in his bed - in the dark.  I walked into his room only to see my son sobbing uncontrollably.  His father had just walked out.  "What happened?" ,I asked my son.  He looked at me and told me.  His father had just told him that it wouldn't be much longer until he left us. Way to go, Bob Levine.  Using fear of abandonment as control. Why would a father tell his child that?  A 13 year old child? The alienating had begun, for to stay in his father's good graces and avoid being abandoned, my son was forced to always side with his father.

Bob Levine was setting the stage. Hellbent to make my life miserable, the beatings were amplified.  My punishments were taken up a notch, too.  I believe the guy wanted me to end my own life and he tried to get me to that point.  I survived for my children.  Knowing that a huge gulp in life was happening, I rode it out - one day at a time.  The trophy wife plot twist .

Not to get too involved in the sequence of events,Bob was eventually arrested, I was granted a divorce for cruel and inhuman treatment - Janet's ex husband had already filed to divorce her...so Bob and Janet remarried immediately.  I will never forget my son's discombobulated thinking.  Jared had once mentioned that his father never met Janet until after our divorce had started!  Strange what brainwashing can do to a child's kidnapped mind.  My sons had already known Janet for years.  It's scary just remembering how that young mind of my son was manipulated.  Or is it because he couldn't face what had transpired.  

That is the trophy wife plot twist in a nutshell. But it doesn't end there.  Okay - so these two adults, Bob and Janet wanted to go merrily on their way into the sunset .  What really baffles me is how a woman, Janet Levine (Janet Pohl Torre Levine), has been a tool in the alienation of my sons.  I had begged her to help me remain in the lives of my sons. I will not write the language with which she responded. 

Isn't there some sort of obligation a woman has?  to help other women?  Or is it not applicable when that woman is a trophy wife?   

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."    -Madeleine Albright, 2006

****Important note:  My divorce attorney requested a paternity test of the baby girl born to Janet (then Janet Torre, today Janet Levine).  Both Janet and Robert Levine refused to partake in a paternity test of the child born while I was still married to Mr. Levine.  


jhlstyle said...

This comment was emailed to me, and with the person's permission, I am posting it:
Oh Julie-

I remember so much of this....especially that car!!! Akkkkk! We went to dinner in that car once, didn't we? I was terrified because I don't think the brakes were completely reliable. I think it's wonderful that you are able to write about such painful things now, instead of keeping them locked up inside you. The more you tell, the better it is for you. Your sons have chosen a life of wearing blinders to protect them from things they might remember and, therefore regret. If they want you to take the blog down, that means they are reading it or, somehow, knowing what's written in it. Either way, they are hearing the TRUTH. What they do with the truth is another thing, but they know, in their hearts, that it is the truth.

I am so proud of you and love you....to the moon!


jhlstyle said...

I apologize to readers for rambling in this blog entry - I was having severe flashbacks during my writing. I have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - and cannot always get out of flashback mode. :(