Monday, June 25, 2007

For love and money, Part 2.

Came Election Day 2006. Gerry and Catherina decided to attend a peace rally in Washington, DC, ostensibly, in part, to further their tandem business interests. "They said they were going to promote Think Love," says Ginny. "He went on a Tuesday and was completely out of touch until Saturday. When he came home he told me, 'You and I don't vibrate at the same level.' "

When he added that he intended to go back and stay with Catherina for the rest of that night as well, Ginny told him, "You have put her before me for the last time."

Catherina's husband promptly took their daughter back to Australia; Gerry took it upon himself to move his paramour into the vacation house in Sag Harbor and go about the business of transforming it into their personal sanctuary and love nest. To add insult to injury, recalls Rob, "They moved into my bedroom! I told him, I'm making mortgage payments on a house I can't even use now. I have to knock on the front door before entering, etc."

In an even more serious vein, Rob realized that Gerry's recklessness was putting his own finances at risk: "I told him, 'Your wife is filing for divorce. We have mutual monies that could get seized.' I expressed to him that I had to withdraw my interest before that happens. Either that or I figured I'd have to bring him to Utah for deprogramming." (This was not necessarily just an offhand remark. "We come from a long line of alcoholics," says Rob, "so we've done interventions before. We actually talked about doing an intervention on Gerry, to separate him from her, or his readings, or whatever was going on there.")

Unhappy with the (non-)answers he was routinely getting, Rob felt the situation was of sufficient gravity to warrant a visit to Sag Harbor. That's where he discovered that manipulating the truth wasn't the only new aspect of his brother's behavior—and that, in fact, Gerry appeared to have undergone a 180-degree metamorphosis in personality.

Rob's wife, Jayne, recalls the Gerry she knew before the Election Day "consummation trip" as a man who "was always very clean, impeccable about his clothes and everything." No more, according to Rob: "I was horrified at the condition of our home. There were dead flowers. There were clothes all over the floor. There was burned incense all over the floor. The smell of incense was so bad that—well, this is a guy who once took a mango air freshener out of the basement and threw it out because he couldn't stand it." Reasoning that all these new personal habits had come as part of the package with Catherina—what other explanation could there be?—Rob thought, If she was a tenant paying rent, I’d kick her ass out!

"The day I go," Rob continues, "I knock on the door—it's 10 a.m.—and they're still in bed, apparently. Now normally he's always the first one up, sitting in the back, reading a paper. So I ask him to hop in the van. I say, 'Let's go get some breakfast. I need to talk to you.' I tell him, 'I don't care about your social life; I just don't need my money locked up in your court battle.' But he doesn't want to get in the van. I say to him, 'Gerry, it's your brother. I know you your whole life.' So he goes back inside—to get his authorization from Catherina. Twenty minutes later he comes out and says, 'Can't we just walk around the block?' "

After further verbal sparring and another private consult with Catherina, Gerry finally agreed to go with Rob to breakfast; the meal featured more bizarre conversation. Plus, says Rob, "He has this glazed-over look. I told my wife later, it's like he's on crack or something.' "

Rob says he offered to buy Gerry out of their mutual business interests: "He jerks me around about a price for a couple of months, then he says, 'I want to buy you out.' " But Rob still couldn't get straight answers. "He'd send me quotes from books. I'd ask him, 'When will I receive my money?' And I'd get back, 'The Universe will provide what you need…' So I'd say, 'I'm not asking the Universe, Gerry, I’m asking you.' I finally had to threaten to sue him to get everything sorted out."

No doubt seeking to escape from the mounting negativity, the newly formed couple flew to Australia in late November. Though the chronology here isn't entirely clear, Ginny says that at some point, Gerry and Catherina "had gone to his mother's office and cleaned out the computer on which he kept his financial records." Fortunately, she says, he "overlooked some stuff," thus allowing her to get key account numbers.

She froze his assets. That brought him back for a time (one of several back-and-forth trips during this period). "He had no money," says Ginny simply. "He had to come back and deal with me."

The negotiations for the divorce settlement duplicated Rob's experience of separating his financial affairs from Gerry's. Since Ginny had no legal claim on any portion of Gerry's inheritance, he kept insisting that he wanted to pay her monthly alimony. Ginny allows a sardonic laugh at the memory. "I said, 'Monthly? You don’t even have a job! What money are you going to pay me with: from selling tee-shirts and pastel hats?'* Plus, if he left the country [for good], or if the two of them went through the money, what do I do then? But he made me fight ferociously. His brother loaned me the money just to divorce him." (Rob confirms the loan, adding, "He left her with $2200 in the bank and bills coming in.") In time, Ginny and Gerry reached a settlement on a lump-sum payment that she does not disclose.

Needless to say, all of this turmoil did not go unnoticed by Ginny and Gerry's teenage daughter—nor was the impact lessened by some odd and, really, thoughtless acts on Gerry's part.** "He actually took her bicycle*** and gave it to Catherina for her own daughter, who is just 8," says Ginny. Asked what her ex-husband could've been thinking, she replies, "It's just the total self-absorption, the narcissism of it. He can't see past what he needs and wants. It's this whole Secret thing that just lets you obliterate the past and anything that's uncomfortable."

: The aftermath. And what, I think, we learn from this sad saga.


* a facetious reference to the main product lines that Catherina was selling on her website.
** Again here, in the interest of fairness: I was unable to get Gerry's version of events. I do not doubt anything that I was told by Ginny, Rob or Jayne. However, marital break-ups always create acrimony, and different people will have different perspectives on incidents that occurred. I urge readers to keep that in mind as they read.
*** Yes, I know that the item pictured is a "boy's bike." File it under "artistic license"; I liked the photo.


Anonymous said...

Strange stories, and behavior. You've gotta wonder what vodoo behind SHAM causes such irrationality. Or is it vodoo at all?

Have there or are they psychologists studying this behavior to find it's root?

moi said...

Steve, I don't have time to formulate a really coherent comment here, but I will say that I had an experience in 2005 with a person similiar to catherina, but a man. Luckily, there was no money or marriage breakup involved, so lives were not shattered, but hanging around him took me away from almost everything I had been involved with before I met him. I went into a kind of spiritual trance for a year, thinking I was awakening. Because I was not spiritual enough for him (not on a 'path' he would recognize), and because of our personality differences, we didn't end up pursuing a committed relationship, but i went through hell with this man while I was involved with him. I just assumed, though, that it had more to do with his screwed up family background than with self-help, but in retrospect, I know it was a combination of the two. I finally decided to cut off all communication with him, and my life has greatly improved. However, some people just need to go thru that experience for whatever reason. Maybe that's the case with Gerry. Life is usually not neat and predictable.
One other thing: not all people into self help and new age are as narcissistic as catherina. It also has to do with their personality structure and family background. However, in my own experience, the behavior of people who preach love and vibrational levels and other such things end up doing things that are hurtful to others, for reasons I don't understand. I guess it has to do with the narcissism of thinking they are at a higher spiritual level than every one else who doesn't subscribe to their views

Frances said...

Wow. The thoroughness with which you and the narrator describe Gerry's transformation.

You did a great job with this story-- spelled out exactly the kind of metamorphosis a person who has found self-help can undergo, to the point of a complete personality change... and just how truly negative and unloving this kind of "positivity" can be.

It's my conviction, in fact, that finding self-help can account for John Edwards' cheating. Everything in this article fits: his development of a new and dangerous recklessness, his seeming to forget everything important to him, his appearing not to care about what in his life was at stake.

The detail about the background check of Catherina I found especially interesting.
Ever since the first details of the affair came to light and I found out exactly what kind of person the mistress was, I've been scratching my head wondering how Edwards could not have run a background check, or could have ignored whatever he and his aides did find... because she has so many ties to the gossip industry and shady New Age types that her merely working for a presidential campaign was a big political risk.

Now, of course, after reading about James Ray and that new book by Ehrenreich about coercive positivity... I see just how powerful a super-concentrated and targeted boost of positive attitude really can be. I see just how much of a psychological hold a self-appointed guru really can have.

Someone said that when there's no logical explanation for a person's behavior, there's almost always a psychological one. Edwards acted as if he literally took leave of his senses, as if a new person was inhabiting his body. I think, therefore, that he was under some serious emotional hijack. A self-help huckster peddling their influence to an aspirant and vulnerable man would fit perfectly.