Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

Here goes nothing

At the beginning of July I was served court papers. The case is a matter of public record, and I’m sure anyone who wanted to do a little research could read every sordid detail, or at least the plaintiff’s one-sided account of the details, but I’m not going to get into any of the specifics here other than to say that I chose not to sign a contract and was sued because of that decision.

There hasn’t been a single moment in the last three and half months when I didn’t think we were going to lose our house trying to pay legal fees.

Settlement papers were filed earlier this week officially ending what has been the most traumatic, agonizing, demoralizing experience of my life. I have no faith in our legal system, one that guarantees victory only for the party who can afford to pay for it, one that would allow a large company to bully a private citizen because it knows that she has no money with which to defend herself. I am angry and bitter and feeling all sorts of unbecoming emotions. More than that, though, I am afraid that these people are watching everything I say here, ready to pounce on a single word, twist it, manipulate it, and then sue me again.

I haven’t said anything about this before now because that was the counsel of our lawyers, and I’m sure that if they read this they will recoil, shake their heads, and then charge me $350 for having expended energy thinking another second about my case (I can hear one of them calling the other to say, “Dammit! She wrote about her feelings!”). I understand why they haven’t wanted me to talk about this, but I have felt completely dishonest in remaining silent, in putting on a brave face when inside I was feeling as black and dramatic as every lyric written by The Cure.

So here we are, on the other side, and Jon and I are bewildered and confused and not sure where to start picking up the pieces. We can’t shake this creepy feeling that we’ve been violated in the most disgusting way, made to fear the loss of the roof over our heads. I firmly believe that the mystery illness Jon suffered in August was a direct result of the stress he was trying to cope with, the stress of trying to remain calm and level-headed as he watched his wife collapse frequently into a sobbing heap on the floor. I have not handled this well.

I have also felt completely responsible for putting my family through this, for being the reason that our futures were jeopardized, and the guilt of that has been almost too much to live through. There have been too many moments like the ones I felt two years ago when it made sense for me to go away, made sense for me to leave because they would be so much better off without me. But unlike two years ago I can actually see how idiotic thoughts like those are. Plus, if I went away, I wouldn’t get to hear Leta say the moment after waking up from a nap, “Mom? I want chocolate cake.”

I could use some chocolate cake, too.

  • You don’t know me from Adam, as I am just another lurker, but I am really sorry for the hell you’ve been through in the past few months.

    I am an attorney and have seen firsthand how people use litigation for utterly improper and often anitcompetitive and bullying types of reasons.

    Apropos of nothing, I have developed something of a speciality on defamation and the internet. If you ever want to bounce something off a sympathetic attorney, you now have my email address.

    Best to you and your family.

  • I’m so sorry it’s been so awful. That really sucks. Bastards.

  • Heather, I’ve enjoyed having the privileged of reading your blog and listening in on your life for the past couple years. I appreciate your openness in sharing the good and the bad.

    I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. I know how rotten the legal system can really be. I hope that you and your family recover from all this stress.

    And I would bake you my famous better-than-sex chocolate orange cake and cover it with a rich chocolate ganache if I could.

  • shelbyg

    Heather – Just wanted to say you are an amazing, strong, beautiful (I know…I actually saw you and Leta in SLC Airport about a year and half ago while trying to get home to Portland), women. I adore your site and antics…and love to hear about your battles with Leta. You can make SOOOOOOOOOO many people smile and laugh out aloud. I truly hope that you don’t let these guys take you down and battle back to DOOCE…(and Jon and Leta) All my thoughts and hugs to you!!

  • Ken

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am sure you are aware of how many people you positively affect on a daily basis. I wish I could do the same for you and yours. As a victim of the civil legal process I sympathize with your distrust.

    Bless you and your family and I hope you can put this behind you.

    Ken
    Alabama

  • What an awful story, I’m so sorry for what you had to go through. Why sue someone if they’re not bazillionaires? Sounds like for the pure evil of it, which makes me cry inside for the state of our world.

    I hope every person that comments here leaves you positive words of praise and love to help lift you back up. I love your site. I love the pictures of Leta. I love the picture of Chuck. You’re a great person and the world is better for having known you.

  • You are human, and so is Jon. A person can only handle so much. Plus, if you’re like me, and suffer from SAD, then the impending winter doesn’t help things either.

    I think you are wonderful and strong. Ending up in the bell jar doesn’t make you any less of that.

    I will eat some chocolate cake and think of you!

  • ihave2girls

    Kids say the darndest things. They are so innocent. Leta doesn’t care about anything else in this world but her Mommy and Daddy…and maybe Elmo. Wouldn’t it be great to be a child again?

  • muddriggle

    I hope this isn’t insensitive, but when I read about your legal troubles, I experienced a HUGE mofuggin Whoosh of relief. I was worried that something was wrong with your beautiful daughter.

    But legal troubles, and money, those will pass.

    And we all know you’re just passing time until you drop the first 3 years of your blog directly into book form and make a million, anyway.

    Here’s wishing you the best. And a brighter tomorrow.

  • Jenbuster

    What an awful thing to have to deal with. I’m sorry that this has happened and I can totally understand your bitterness. I wish there was something we could do to help.

  • Perfectlyimperfect

    I read your blog everyday and never comment, but today I felt I needed to show you some support.
    You are an amazing writing, please don’t give up.

  • Kristen

    Like everyone else, I don’t want to see you go away. You inspire me to write about my feelings!
    *insert gasping face here*

  • M@

    ps: I blogged about when I was sued and found a great, free attorney.

    . . . just sayin’…

  • Really sorry to hear about this. I agree with every critical comment you made about the system. It’s a racket, and only further illustrates how, for all of its strengths, this country is largely set up so that the few benefit from the toiling of the many. Sucks when someone undeserving gets caught in the gears. I hope everything works out OK.

  • Judy

    Dooce-family,

    If there is anything that, we the readers, can do to help you…whether it be click a few more ads to help you through this, just let us know! If we can’t fight the man for you directly we can sure as heck try to help you pay for it! You’ve given us so with with your bravery to bare your feelings this is the least we can do!

  • I’ll send chocolate cake immediately. But, I wonder if it would be edible when it arrived.

  • I wish none of it happened to you. I hope things start to get easier now.

  • M@

    I recommend using many, many exclamation points.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that, Heather. And yes, the legal system is a total joke. I can only imagine that the UTAH legal system includes “seeing if she floats” and “tarring/feathering”, among the standard cross-related court proceedings.

    god… I really wish you didn’t have to go through all that.

    Whoever said “through suffering comes wisdom” can bite my ass.

  • Thanks for letting us in a little on this. The scant details only make me more curious, and I’m equally frustrated by what seems to be a very unfair and obviously trying situation. Hang in there though. It seems the worst is over, including the downward slide you’ve all been on. Chin up, it will get better from here. You know that we’re all pulling for you.

    Scott

  • After spending the last 3+ years mired in a different type of legal morass, I feel for you.

    The legal system in this country is so royally f*cked up. A person is guilty until proven rich. And big companies should always be allowed to keep their money, regardless of their immoral and unethical behavior. Where are the protections for private citizens? I haven’t been able to find them.

    Congratulations on getting through to the other side. I’m sure that was an education you never wanted to be valedictorian of.

  • Oh Heather honey – even more prayers to you guys. I can only hope you had good legal counsel on your side. When can we buy a 2007 Congressman Chuckles calendar to help the cause?

    A giant, giant hug from Boston,
    -Lori

  • Ida (Swede in Quebec)

    Oh, Heather. I don’t know what to say. It hurts me just to get a glimps of what you have been going through lately.

    And suddenly I hear The Corrs in my mp3. Everybody hurts. “Don’t let yourself go. Cause everybody cries. Everybody hurts. Sometimes.”

    Thinking about all of you. There will be light.

  • servina

    I’m all, “WHO THE @$#$@ SUED HER?!!?!” The smackdown is ON.

    Well, not really. But if YOU are feeling at least a little bit more grounded, especially after talking (I guess) about it, that’s what’s most important.

  • Sorry for the bad luck. I’d have to start drinking at 8:00AM if I thought too hard about how many times I’ve been screwed over because I couldn’t afford to put up the legal fight.

    Rights too often seem to be only for the rich. I don’t know how to get around it. I think Bowie had it right. “This is not America…”

  • jgsearls

    Well, I don’t make a great chocolate cake and I’m not sure it would travel well but get thee over to fatwitch.com and order yourselves up some insanely good brownies.

    I’m also perplexed as to how you can get sued for not signing a contract – great, something else to worry about – but am thinking of you guys and hoping for blue skies and sunshine now that you’ve put this behind you.

  • it’s in your underneath

    Mean people suck. I wish all the mean people in the world would be sucked up by a whirling vortex, deposited into outer space to be exploded into a million, gadjillion tiny evil pieces. If I had POWER, I could totally do that. And I would. For you and your family and all the other innocents on this planet. Come on over to my house, Heather. I will make you a lovely chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and I won’t even make you brush your teeth afterwards. I hope whoever those evil people are….are reading this right now….Karma people, KARMA!

  • I’m sorry you’ve been through this rough time. I really do know what you’ve had to endure, and I am impressed that you have continued to function at all during this time, let alone keep on posting and being witty and smart as ever.

    As a lawyer, I have learned that, more than anything, I do not ever want to be embroiled in any kind of legal battle myself. I have so much sympathy for you and for my own clients, who are frequently baffled and disillusioned by the impenetrability of the legal system, the unthinkable cost (personal and financial) of litigation and the intense scrutiny to which you are subjected as a litigant. It is a side of things that many people don’t see before it’s too late, until they’re in the middle of things, often not by their own choice, as happened to you.

    I hope at the very least your lawyers acted as counselors to you as well as advocates on your behalf. For me, this is the side of the profession that is the most neglected and should be, instead, the most important. We are all human beings, after all, and deserve to be heard and understood.

  • MommyofOne

    See that? You post something new, and within minutes you have a ton of support. We’ve been anxiously awaiting hearing the cause of your pain, and now we know. We’re all pulling for you, Heather.

    What a lovely picture of Jon today. I am soooo happy you have a husband and daughter who love you so fiercely.

    You’ve had a lot on your plate since July. I’m silently cheering you on from Nevada.

  • I’m so sorry. That really sux sweaty goat balls.

    I hope that you can, at least now, take some steps forward.

  • Bitter Betty

    I’m sorry the world is full of fuckers. And I’m sorry good people like you guys encounter them all too often. I know you’ll recover from this. You just need about 100 Silkwood showers and some motherfucking candy.

  • Aw Heather, I’m so very sorry.

    I hope you feel better real soon.

  • You deserve to have your cake and eat it too. Enjoy every morsel and let the past be the past. There are too many great cakes and Leta smiles to come in the future.

  • I’m sorry things have been so rough for you lately. I do hope this is the end of it and you’re able to move on.

    Go have a huge piece of cake, you deserve it.

  • I’m in your corner. Take care.

  • Laurabelle

    We’re all pulling for you, Heather. Your feelings are a part of my daily web browsing, and this is a great opportunity to thank you for sharing them. My day wouldn’t be the same without your humor and insights. And thanks for voicing the truth about black licorice. I can only hope my son will hate it like I do. Hang in there, and try to focus on the good vibes coming your way, and not the evil ones from those people, whoever they are. I’m sending you double-chocolate frosted vibes right now.

  • Ug. I’m sorry the past few months have been so stressful. I think a detoxifying chocolate-cake-binge is just what the doctor ordered. Hang in there, Armstrongs.

  • Hey Heather! I’m SO sorry to hear that this has been going on. Gawd, no wonder you’ve been slipping into a deep dark place – the legal system is like Dante’s Inferno: The worst kind of hell. But I’m really happy to hear that you’re out – it’s done! Boy you must have had one helluva stiff drink to celebrate that one!

    You are sooo strong. I’m proud of you. I read your every post and know you have thousands of other friends out there rootin’ for you & your awesome little family. Life totally sucks in so many ways and is breathtakingly phenomenal in so many others. Stay strong and count your blessings. I’m sending you a big hug. xoxo

  • itsadaisy

    Well no wonder you are feeling the way you did a couple years ago. Banging your head against our legal system is enough to fry anyone’s brain chemistry. For what it’s worth, if you lived next door, I’d bake you a chocolate cake every day until you felt better. Don’t go anywhere without us, please.

  • Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry that you guys have had to go through this. I’m glad you can finally write about your feelings, as that is one of the most cathartic things you can do, especially being a writer.

    Please know, that there are lots of people out here (like me) who look forward to reading the things you have to say every day. You are a part of my day each day, and I am grateful to you for how you brighten it just by being you on your blog.

  • Skippy

    sometimes when things feel overwhelming, it helps me to count my blessings. You have a sweet, healthy daughter, a loving husband, and an addictive personality. money causing stress will always be a constant. But from what i can tell, with the things that really matter, you are very rich indeed.

  • fridaynightgirl

    What an awful thing! I second the notion that your story makes me desire nothing more than to jump up and down, pull at my hair and spew obscenities but, alas, I am at the office and I believe it is against company policy.

    I am so glad you came through it and are now on the other side. I am thinking of you today and hoping that sunny days will find you. Very. Soon.

  • ridley40

    Excellent idea, Kaw, and one that can easily be followed up on. (I know, ending with a preposition and all that. Mea culpa…) Way down on the right hand side of the page is a “make a payment” option, where you can use Paypal or Amazon to send a little moola to put in Heather and Jon’s Chocolate Cake Fund, with hopefully a little left over to get Leta into Black Licorice Rehab.

  • Anna

    Whoever the big wigs are, I bet they’re not in the Wikipedia!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Armstrong

    What’s the next item to be placed on Chuck’s head? How about a wig. If you can’t beat ’em, mock ’em.

    You rock and you’re wonderful – hang in and breathe deep 🙂

  • ktm

    Heather,

    Know that I am rooting for you. I wish you well in everything. You are a part of my everyday. Thank you.

  • well bugger that, dude! I’m so sorry.

    Pardon me while I get baking.

  • What’s even better than eating chocolate cake? Eating chocolate cake off of the one you love’s naked torso.

    Heck, I’m sure Jon won’t mind.

  • Andrea-cat

    As an attorney, trying desperately to leave the profession, I am so sorry what they are putting you through. It is that very reason I am changing professions because I am sick of seeing innocent people being bullied by the system without any type of safety net (I’m also way too sensitive for this profession).

    Obviously, I do not know your specific circumstance but hopefully, good will come out of this and you will settle back into some sense of normalcy. Take care of yourself, take a ride up one of the Cottonwood Canyons (so beautiful), go to Ruth’s Diner or the Blue Plate for a leisurely breakfast (yum), bring your dog to the dog park near Liberty Park (if they still have it – haven’t lived in SLC in four years) – watching my dog run around and play was great therapy, and hug your daughter.

  • My mother went through something similar many years ago. Legalities of so many situations, do indeed, SUCK. Big sigh and virtual hug for you. Perhaps another “OMG our plumbing’s fucked cookie” would soothe the soul a bit. Hang in there!

  • kaw

    Thoughts and prayers are great and all, but how about we send cold, hard cash? Any web savvy commenter out there willing to set up a “juice for dooce” site? I’d chip in $10 — it seems the least I can do for Heather for sharing a bit of her life with such humor and insight.

    Even if only a few people contribute, Heather could at least buy a grand chocolate cake, on us.

    How about it?

  • PrincessMo

    Don’t let The Man get you down, man. #%*& ’em. Eat cake. Keep writing. Know that you are loved.