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.

  • thefirecat

    Someone please get this woman some chocolate cake, stat!

    This country has seriously developed such a knee-jerk response of “I’ll sue you!” that it’s frightening. So sorry to hear that you got stuck on the tail end of someone’s overweening sense of entitlement.

    (PS, don’t you just *love* that word? Overweening? It’s one of my favourites. It’s so….I don’t know. Just say it to yourself. Overweeeeeeening. So perfect.)

  • Oh Heather. I’m joining with you in sending all of my most evil thoughts out to big companies and their lawyers. It’s really too bad that not everyone passed the “play nicely with others” portion in kindergarten. Can’t they just let you be? I know you have thousands of readers like me, whose lives you have touched positively by sharing your experiences–it’s just so nice to have someone be as honest as you are, and know that we’re not alone in our experiences.

  • Wait … suing you for NOT signing a contract? How does that even work?

    Much love to you and the family. And chocolate cake.

  • jes

    This makes me both insanely curious and saddened for you at the same time. But I’m willing to bet that if you had mentioned it in July? You’d have hundreds of readers jumping to your defense. And I bet many of them would have been attorneys.

  • Pascha

    Wow, I cannot imagine what you’re going through. I truly hope everything turns out well for your family.

  • Bridget

    Please don’t go away–I check your site often for a laugh or to offer my support to you. Your writing has made me want to be a better person. I hope this nightmare is over for you…

  • I’m so sorry for everything your family has gone through. Sending good thoughts your way and putting on my angry eyes for whoever has put you through this.

  • There is nothing that I can really say, other that I am thinking of you and your family and hope that it all works out well.

  • geekbruin

    oh, heather. i’m so sorry.

  • And please stop blaming yourself. I obviously don’t know the details of what’a going on, but I’d bet anything that Jon does not blame you, but is incredibly greatful that you were there the entire time. Now go eat your cake. 🙂

  • Heather, I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. My parents were sued last year for leaving their former company and starting their own (gasp!), and I have seen the stress, fear, and sheer panic that it can cause. Please, try to relax and breathe deeply and move on now that it is over. I hope you are okay.

  • molly_g

    Heather, it sounds like you’ve joined in the league with Oprah and other powerful folks that get sued for slander every time they offer up a preference that would put marketing exec’s panties in a twist. Congrats!

    Oh, and please do not stop doing what you do. I love to read about your feelings.

  • Heather,

    I have no words. I am sorry that your family has lived this experience. I can only send you my prayers, and best wishes.

  • jodiw

    That’s what family is for, Heather! They love us even when we make them sick! And you’d be the rock for John and Leta if they needed you to be, too. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. Now stick it to the man!

  • That pisses me off. Without knowing any of the circumstances of the case…but it’s not fair. It’s not fair that you should have been punished for blogging about your job (even if it did make you famous) and it’s not fair that you’d be punished for writing about your feelings. (I’m only assuming the suit had something to do with your blog).

    I’m so impressed and entertained by the level of personal detail you are willing to share with the Internet, and I hate the idea of your ever being bullied away from your blog again. I wish I could be as honest on my blog, and you’re supposed to be the inspiration that allows me to open up more.

    Damn them lawyers.

    Please don’t go away.

  • if i could send you chocolate cake, i would. but if i were you, i wouldn’t eat chocolate cake sent by a stranger on the internet. even if you were feeling crappy and it was really good. so i’ll just hope jon brings you some.

    i don’t know. this morning my boss gave me a ‘talking to’ [hardly, except that i’ve never been told at a job that i’ve done something wrong] and i nearly burst into tears. i can’t imagine how i would be holding up if something that actually mattered exploded in my face.

    from what i can tell, you’re a pretty strong lady. keep it up. and if you can’t keep it up, i’ll tell you what i tell my best friend what she needs to hear whenever she needs to hear it, which is pretty often – keep it up for your daughter. i know you will.

  • Losing your faith in the legal system is like finding out your father isn’t Superman. It sucks, I’ve been there and I wish you all the best.

  • Sending good thoughts your way. I hope everything works out and things start getting better.

  • Aaron Potts

    Heather – If it helps your lawyers to sleep at night, you did a great job of keeping this under wraps. I’m glad that you are on the other side of it, and I’m sure that things will start the ascent now. All of my best to you and your family.

  • I’m so sorry you’re going through this. But congratulations on having made it through. I can’t imagine how tough it must be, but you did it, and that’s something to be proud of.

  • After reading what you put here it sounds as if you were very circumspect.

    I am just blown away by this, I knew you could get sued for signing a contract and then not following through but to NOT sign a contract. It makes me want to swear big sweary words. It does sound like they were punishing you because they could.

    You have put up a brave front and I admire you for it. I am sorry for all that you and your family has had to go through to payoff someone’s whim. I am sure that all of your readers (ok, most) are sending you good thoughts and wishes. I, myself, am hoping that instant karma comes to call on Unnamed Litigious Jerks as well as sending you good thoughts. Chin up! Hopefully we can help prop you up for all the humor and good times you have given us.

  • Cyclothymia

    I feel your pain. I was audited and financially raped by the IRS, and along the way had the delightful experience of being told over and over again that I was targeted precisely because they knew they would win. I didn’t make enough $$ to be able defend myself properly, and I was young, so my record keeping likely sucked – yep, they were right about that. The horror has only ended a few weeks ago and I am still shakingly angry. I mean literally – I know the physical feeling of going postal; your arms and face go numb.

    I’m sure having Leta and Jon both adds to the guilt and provides a sheltering rock to crawl under, at least I didn’t have anyone to worry about except for myself. You have done your best, and hopefully in time you will be able to laugh about things.

  • Veep

    I think this needs to be mentioned every ten comments:
    There is a tiny “donate” option at the bottom of the right column.
    I think we should all use it to make our appreciation spendable.

    Juice for Dooce!

  • Jezzie

    I wish I could send you a cake from smittenkitchen, cause Debs cooking is like nothing else, but I can direct you over there to her photos :)Heather, I am broke, and refuse to take babydaddy to childsupport court b/c he has threaten me with trying to gain custody of my son over me being gay, IF I DO. Not b/c I am gay, but b/c he could use it against me.
    The relevence here is, he could never win, but I would have to mortgage my house, and spend a hundred grand and five years in court battling him, because his family has money. He won’t pay me realistic or regular child support or be a decent father, but he’ll pay lawyers to prove that he can beat me down. That he is “the man”. And that’s why you got sued, to prove they are “the man”= no offense to the real men out there, esp Jon 🙂

  • theinadvertentgardener

    Dooce, I don’t think I’ve commented, but I’m a long-time reader. Wishing you strength as you guys figure out the next steps, and, like so many other commenters, I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this.

    It sounds like you’re about to end up with a mailbox filled with chocolate cake. Maybe a bake sale is in order?

    In the meantime, I’m off to click through some of your ads. You’ve inspired me, and have inspired and entertained so many others. Fight the power!

  • Courtney

    Your blog has helped me get through so many bad days. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but I’m glad to hear it’s coming to an end.

    Costco makes an *incredible* chocolate cake. It weighs seven pounds;)

  • PinkGator

    Heather, I am so very sorry. I struggle with depression as well, and am attempting to have as much humor about it as you. Please know that my friends and I look forward to reading your site everyday, to that point that we complain to each other when you don’t post until late. We are single, childless folks living in a huge city, but still just LOVE to hear about your feelings, Leta, Jon, the clogs, your boobs, Chuck, the LDS relatives, and so on. Please please don’t go away, Heather. Reading your site is one of my favorite parts of the day. Keep your chin up, you’ve been on my prayer list! Things will turn around soon.

  • I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for the past year, and I draw on so many of your experiences and triumphs for strength. Thank you.

    All sorts fo stress can send me spiraling, so I can’t imagine dealing with mental illness AND a lawsuit, AND guilt. I know you’ll hear a lot of “buck up,” and “don’t blame yourself” types of things, but I know that no matter how logical it is, it doens’t make sense to your brain. But so many people care about you, and we’re all pulling for you.

  • Heather,
    There is this woman that is in the middle of every parents nightmare and I have been searching for her daughter for months and one day I met the mother. I asked her, “How do you get up everyday and go through this?” and she said, “I have no idea, but I can feel the prayers and well wishes from all the people that love me and I think that is where I get my strength. I am REALLY not this strong of a woman.”

    You have thousands of people praying, sending good vibes and just knowing that I am not alone because people know what I feel because I can talk about it.

    You’ve got lots of this, and I won’t try to pray and mess it up, but I will send you some of the good vibes I have.

  • heathabee

    To beat a dead horse, I too am sorry for all the pain and stress your little family has been through the past few months. I am glad that it is all behind you, and that you can begin to heal and move on. You and your family are in my prayers – for happiness, success, stability and peacefulness.

    Also, I like reading about your feelings. Your feelings make my feelings look normal, and I like that harhar 🙂

  • ChristineT

    Sorry to hear you’ve had such a rough time! I’m thinking of you, and sending lots of happy thoughts your way!

  • Who are they? Lemme at em.

  • ~Lorien~

    I pledge 20% of my ebay sales for the next 10 days! Anyone else? Just let me know where to send the $$.

  • jessimicah

    See, now you REALLY need to move to Elmo.

  • eden

    so glad your legal battle is over. it’s a special kind of anxiety, the lawsuit and the lawyers and the hourly rate. my husband and i were sued for mowing our grass and it was wrenching. reading your site every day helped! also: alcohol, or cake or whatever. sounds like a good reason to indulge in anything you like.

  • Heather, I haven’t commented in a while, but I just wanted to chime and tell you I love you and I hope you guys are able to recover from this quickly.

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.

  • I’m sorry you are going through such a rough spot. I feel your pain though… My mother tried to sue me once for medical bills she paid for when I was 16. Classy huh?

    Hang in there. *HUGS*

  • I’d always wondered why there were so many lawyer jokes — why’d we all chosen to pick on this particular profession/facet of society.

    Then I needed to hire a lawyer.

    I completely understand feeling violated, taken advantage of, and left still just as screwed as when you started.

    I hope you heal fast. At the very least, choclate cake kicks ass — depressed or not.

  • Tim in Flyover Country

    Heather & Jon,
    Seriously, sell another Chuck Calendar or put a donation box on the site. I’m in for either a calendar or a $10 donation. Over 60 of us have commented and if we all give $10, it’s $600. It’s just a start. You are awesome parents and I enjoy your sites. Keep your chin up. We’re all going through different storms in life. Sharing our experiences help us all get through it.

    Tim

  • Wow, Heather. So sorry to hear about this. The legal system is broken… I think we all know this.

    Chocolate cake with sprinkles on top for you, Jon and Leta.

  • We’re all behind you, pulling for you, etc. It’s not always going to be like it is right now. It WILL get better.

  • ~Lorien~

    Oh, Heather. I am so sorry about all of this. I wish you had told us (your loyal readers who have grown to care about you and your family through your blogging). I’m positive there are tons of us who would have contributed to your legal battle. I mean, who likes Corporate bullies? Not us regular folks, I promise you! I hope one day you are able to share more with us so we can know who NOT to give any more of our money to.

    This too shall pass, but your faith in the legal system is probably ruined forever. Know that we all are thinking about you and praying you see smoothers times ahead. Keep your chin up!

  • Thanks for sharing. Glad you’re on the way out of the yuckiness.

    Dirty martinis for everyone!

    xo

  • Oy, Heather, no wonder your soul is unhappy. Hang in there, and glad it’s mostly over.

    Eat cake til you puke.

  • Gosh where to begin. I completely understand and agree about the legal system and Lawyers. Sad thing is I’m a paralegal and work in a law office (part of the reason I hate my job). The law completely fails people most times. My hubby and I are going through some things and need an attorney who can help us in Alaska (yep I said AK) and unless I win the lottery it ain’t going to happen. Not that you or anyone else care but: http://mominprogress.wordpress.com/2006/06/28/stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-rock/ and http://mominprogress.wordpress.com/2006/06/28/stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-rock-continued/
    All that people care about anymore is freaking money. Who gives a crap about their fellow man.
    I’m sorry you guys had to go through this and I hope you and Jon both can get past and heal yourselves from this issue. And even though it doesn’t feel like it now, things will get better.
    People suck, nuff said.

  • I make a kick-ass vegan chocolate cake. I don’t know how well it would make the treck from ottawa to utah though…

    here’s hoping things improve…

  • echo8322

    dooce,

    i was worried about you and your family – and i’m sorry to hear about the trauma you’ve been through. it’s always shattering, coming out of a long period of extreme stress like the one you’ve just experienced – but i think you’ve got a good handle on where to start picking up the pieces. Hug Jon, hug Leta, and devour that chocolate cake. And keep writing, woman. You are truly amazing, and such a gifted writer. Nobody has the right to stop your words. I wish you could see, just once, all the smiles and laughter and joy you bring to your readers each day.

    Here’s hope for some peace at the blurbodoocery in the coming months (winter is good for cuddling and hot chocolate by the fireplace!)

    Hugs,
    sak

  • There is a PayPal Donate button on the right-hand column…

  • Miss Sunni

    I hate hate hate it when the only way to win a legal case is to bring the other party to bankrupcy. An old employer of mine sued a bunch of his former employees over a contract issue and the former employees all ended up declaring bankrupcy because the lawsuit went on so long.

    However, there was a bit of karma. After it was all over the big company owner got a brain tumor and when he had it removed he lost his memory. I suppose it was his way of forgetting what a dick he had been.

    I hope the nasties that sued you get what THEY deserve.

    My thoughts go out to you and your family.

  • My anxiety levels just went up reading this post. The way life deals the cards sometimes feel as though it’s all fixed.

    Whatever it is that put you in that position, as long as you feel that YOU did the right thing…that’s all that matters.

    Since the end of July my family has also been going through a debilating situation…one that we too can’t talk about it. People around me know something isn’t right, but I have to keep it all bottled up inside…which like you, isn’t me.

    The thing I have to remind myself each waking minute is that in the end the better half will prevail.

    You need to stomp your foot down and proclaim your life back…”IT” is not your life!! You have way more than that going for you.