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Anatomy of a Disaster Part One, Scene Three: The Box, the Lies, and the Unraveling

Dear Readers:

Today I continue telling Sarah’s story.

If you have not read the first three installments in this series, please do so before you continue.  I’ll give you handy-dandy links because I am a very giving person!

1. Cast of Characters

2. Sarah’s Story

3. Let’s Get Something Straight

The Box

Sarah stretches out her legs and exhales.  It sounds like a breath she has been holding onto for years.

I’ve just asked her when she first suspected that Sam wasn’t the man she thought she married, but instead a transgender female.  It’s obvious answering this question is difficult for her.

“I was in the attic one day, and I found this box of women’s clothes.  Not just clothes, but purses, wigs, shoes, you name it.  I know you’ll think I’m crazy but I didn’t even think for a minute that he was transgendered or even just cross-dressing.  I thought he was having an affair and for some reason his mistress was keeping some clothes in our attic.”

I look up from my legal pad and Sarah sees the incredulity spreading across my face.

“Don’t judge me,” she snaps.

“How would you feel if you came across something like that?  My husband was a very masculine guy – I never in a million years would have suspected he identified as a woman.  So what would you do?  How would you feel?”

“That depends on his taste in women’s clothing,” I joked.

“If he shared my sense of style, was my size, and knew how to properly accessorize I’d be kind of stoked, to tell you the truth.  If I could get Mr. Patience and Understanding to at least develop a fetish for women’s jewelry, my David Yurman addiction could finally progress to full-blown, which would be a lovely thing indeed.”

Archie pawed again at Sarah’s hand and managed to spill her drink, so I quickly got up to make another one.  He lapped up what he could from the couch and burped.

“That’s hilarious,” she said.  

“Really funny.”


I pressed on.  

“Look, if you can’t laugh about this stuff it will eat you up inside.  Plus, you have to admit there is something very practical about married people being able to share clothes.  That would save a ton of money.  No wonder the gays are a higher-income demographic.”*

“Don’t get me started on the money,” Sarah sighed.

“Don’t even get me started.”

“Tell me,” I said.  

I poured her another drink as Archie vomited in the corner of the room and started dancing.  Have you ever seen a dog dance?

I have.

“Sam was always a big spender, but as he got older and I guess as he began to accept that he was really ‘Samantha,’ the spending got really bad.  He would find a new interest and shop online obsessively until he dropped that interest for a new one and started buying the new stuff.  

“Model airplanes, rare books,  golf clubs, watches, Mont Blanc pens, bicycles, antique fishing reels, you name it. Everything had to be top of the line and he blew through hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“It takes a lot of ‘stuff’ to fill a hole,” I noted, “and yet there isn’t enough ‘stuff’ in the world to do it.  

Because everything is really all about me, I went on:

“I empathize.  I was a compulsive shopper when I was deeply unhappy, too.  It’s funny because I just don’t have the urge to shop anymore, and it used to be a very big thing for me.  Now that I better understand who I am, and now that I am living an authentic life, I just don’t need all that ‘stuff’ anymore.”

Sarah snorted and pointed to my shoes.

“Boy, those AGLs are really cute, and they look brand new.”

“I said I don’t need the stuff anymore, Sarah.  I didn’t say I don’t want it.  There’s a big difference.”

We laughed and moved on.

The Lies

I asked her the obvious question:

“So how did he react when you produced this box of women’s clothing and demanded to know what was going on? What did he say?”

“He totally blew it off,” Sarah answered.

Sam told his wife he was just curious to see what it felt like to dress like a woman. He laughed it off and assured her nothing was going on that she should be concerned about, or “about which she should be concerned,” if you are a grammar Nazi.  

Sarah believed him, and told Sam that she was getting rid of the box.  He assured her it wouldn’t happen again and that everything was fine.

Everything was not fine.

The next time she found The Box it wasn’t The Box at all; it was The Suitcase. And as the years went on the “hiding” of women’s clothing and other items became as blatant as Trump is obnoxious.

How blatant?  

Sam began buying expensive prom dresses (“really hideous stuff,” Sarah complained) and “hiding” them in the closet.

His wife’s closet.  

Yeah, do you think he wanted to get caught?  These dresses were discovered by Sarah’s sisters as they were going through her clothes looking for hand-me-downs.  

That was a hard one to convincingly explain when her own sisters, who knew her taste in clothing, began pulling bedazzled slutty ballgowns out of her closet that aren’t her size, and asking, “What the fuck, Sarah?”

Every time she made a discovery she would angrily present the found items to her husband, and every time he would lie to her and tell her this was just an interest, or a fetish.  For years he hid his true feelings and misled Sarah into thinking the marriage was viable when it was not.

The Unraveling

Their daughter Katie was conceived after Sarah’s discovery of The Box, and the marriage continued.  

The family moved out-of-state and out-of-country to follow Sam’s career path, and as the years went on Sarah became more and more worried about her relationship with her husband and his relationship with their kids.

It wasn’t just the continued discovery of the women’s items and seeing her husband shop online for prosthetic breasts.  It wasn’t just viewing her husband’s female profile of “Samantha” on a transgendered website.  It wasn’t just the profligate spending on the hobby-du-jour.

Sam just wasn’t around.

Sure his career was demanding and he had to travel a good deal, but he started lengthening the trips and taking extra days for himself.  Sarah would later find out he did that so he could spend time in a strange city as “Samantha,” with less fear of being recognized.

His relationship with his children was, in a word, “poor.”  

Sam spent so much time on his own hobbies and away from home that his children felt estranged from him, even as they lived in the same home. That situation would become far worse as they were forced to say goodbye to Sam and expected to welcome Samantha into their lives without hesitation.

Remember being a pre-teen and teenager?  Put yourself back there and imagine what that would feel like.  

While I am absolutely dedicated to the rights of the LBGTQ community, I know that accepting a parent’s transition during what is already a terrible experience (divorce immediately after yet another move) would be very, very difficult.

More on that in a later blog, but it is one of many key points that define why this case is such a disaster.

As the marriage further unraveled, Sam eventually started wearing women’s underwear every day and told his wife he was transgender and she needed to accept him for who he was.  She threatened divorce, but he begged her to stay.

They each sought therapy, together and separately, and one therapist went so far as to scold Sarah:

“Do you have any idea how lucky you are?” 

“I know 1,000 women who would line up to be married to Samantha.  You need to be more grateful that you have such a giving and feminine partner, and you need to accept her.”


At this point I had to laugh.

“Pardon me for saying so,” I chuckled, “but a man having and retaining his dick and not wanting breast implants is a non-negotiable for most women in a marriage.  A woman having and retaining her tits, and not wanting to have an addadicktome operation is also a non-starter for most men.  Her position seems unreasonable, to say the least.”

Sarah thought she could stay until the kids finished high school, but the marriage became unbearable.  

The couple moved back to Portland, into separate homes, and Samantha came out to her employers and filed for divorce, choosing the nastiest law firm in town with the worst reputation.

“Why do you suppose she picked that firm?” I asked.

“Because she blamed me for the marriage ending and she blamed me for the kids’ rejection of Samantha.  She blamed me for having to come out to her company for fear they would find out. She blamed me for all of it.  She told me she was going to get a bulldog, I guess to make me pay for all I had done to her.”

“That’s a neat trick,” I observed, using one of my favorite new phrases, “but it explains why she chose that firm.  

“They specialize in people with a robust entitlement complex mixed with irrational anger and a victim mentality. Those clients who don’t come to their office with those characteristics are quickly brought up to speed on how to assign 100% of the blame to the other spouse when a marriage breaks down and the art of revenge and bridge-burning against someone they will have to co-parent with for years.  Isn’t that a neat trick?”

“That was cute when you said it the first few times today,” Sarah sniffed, and wiggled her again-empty glass my way.

“Now it’s just annoying.”

Archie burped again, and I opened a bottle of wine.

“Let’s talk about what happened next,” I said, and that’s when Sarah finally started to cry.

Coming up in our next installment of “Anatomy of a Disaster,”

Part Two, Scene One: The Vacation from Hell



* I made that up but assume it’s true because the ones I know have really nice stuff.

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Tamsen

    If it weren’t for the fact that I have to remind myself this is a true story, and “Sarah” has had to suffer through it all, I would say this is really great. Riveting actually.

    1. Robin DesCamp

      Thank you! I am REALLY enjoying this genre. Maybe I’ll do a true crime novel one day.
      Oh wait, that’s what this is. The divorce and how it was “handled” by one side is a crime against humanity. IN MY OPINION.*

      *Hey, Steve! You going to Maui? Hope to share a drink with you there!

  2. julie

    I’m so engrossed in reading this I forget to breathe.
    This needs to be made into movie or a television series. That is, if it hasn’t been already.

  3. "Carrie Smith"

    I can testify that Robin’s report is scary accurate–it’s like she was there!

  4. Robert

    Robin, yesterday a friend told me about your blog and I had to call into work sick today so I could read all your previous posts! I am glad you are being recognized as a humorous, interesting and a must-be-on-tv woman! And I can tell you that you are one of the more attractive woman I have seen in a long time. Definitely not a “Boner Thief”!

    1. Robin DesCamp

      Thank you! And might I suggest a visit to your local optometrist?

    2. America

      please never say ‘boner thief’ again.

  5. Leanna

    How in the world can a “therapist” tell a client they should feel lucky to have such a giving and feminine husband and she needs to accept him?!?!
    Sarah married what she thought was a man. A manly man. Samantha misrepresented who he was when they married. Samantha lied to his bride in order to cover up. None of this situation is Sarah’s fault.
    Great chapter Robin!

    1. Robin DesCamp

      That therapist should find other work. She is tone-deaf, clueless, and stupid. In other words, she’d make a great divorce attorney at the firm in question!

  6. smh

    I can understand and sympathize with the absolute anguish of what it might feel like to be trapped in a body that you cannot identify with, being scared, ashamed, etc. What I cannot understand is why you would commit to a life and a woman if you knew this is who you were? What I find unforgivable is blaming Sarah for any of it, and beyond that, the need to continually hurt her through this disgusting firm.

    It was Samantha’s choices that got her here. Sadly for Sarah, these choices stole precious years she can never get back, an uncertain future and the loss of her husband and partner. What part of this scenario is Sarah’s doing? I can’t wait to hear about that “neat trick”.

    1. Robin DesCamp

      I too cannot imagine how horrible it would be to have this problem. I have not always been the most feminine of gals, but I have never felt like anything but a woman. I imagine it took years for Sam to accept Samantha – many years – and that in part explains why she wanted the marriage to remain intact. Plus, I’d guess she still loved Sarah; the transition or the desire to transition would not necessarily be incompatible with that love.

      I believe Sarah is a strong and capable woman who will have a marvelous “Second Act.” I’m not so sure about her ex.

      If Samantha does not awaken to and stop the pain she is causing her family, especially through continuing litigation with lawyers who have no compunction at charging attorney time for baby lawyers to deliver documents, I worry she may not revel in her Act 2. At the least, it will be significantly delayed. More years wasted and more time that can never be recaptured because someone chose to focus their pain outward and in anger instead of owning their shit and striving to make things better.

      This firm is a cult and the clients are the victims. Most wake up and realize it. Some do not. I had a terse message conversation with a woman a few days ago that utterly convinced me of this fact. I could take her legal bills and show her where unethical and illegal billing was going on, but she would never believe it. She’s a true believer, and I think that is a defense mechanism because once you dig deep and realize someone you trusted used your personal tragedy as an ATM machine, your ego and your trust in the human race would surely be dealt a mighty blow.

      1. smh

        Sarah will undoubtedly have a marvelous “Second Act” – that I am sure of. As for Samantha, accountability and humility will go a long way for her; I truly hope she finds some.

        Bless you for exposing this heinous firm. These stories are heartbreaking for ALL involved.

        1. Just a concerned parent

          I admire you, your strength, I have been married many yrs, I don’t want to say how long, would like to keep my age around 39 FOREVER! I married for the right reasons in my life, I think if I wore your shoes for one day, I honestly do not know how I could handle this, I married for life, bad good, sickness health, but where do you draw the line? We all have our own life experiences, my concern is the children and only the children, (not exactly TRUE) I do worry about you!

          1. Kim

            In this situation, the line is pretty damn BOLD. I certainly give props to those who have chosen to stick by their partner in similar scenerios. What did Samantha expect? For Sarah to suddenly become a lesbian (which there is nothing wrong with, if that is what you CHOOSE). Did she want to live as roomates and have an “open marriage”? I don’t know what that life would look like and I am sure it works for some. What I do know is that things change and sometimes you have to make the hard choice and do what you feel is right for you, which may include ending a marriage. Samantha certainly did that, and it is brave, very very brave.

            BUT – if Samantha cared half as much about her children when she was married as she claims to now, I believe a lot of the relationships in this story would be very different – but she didn’t. Samantha cares about hurting Sarah and Samantha cares about Samantha. Period.

            Samantha should really try hard to actually listen to her children instead of bulldozing their lives for her benefit. These children are speaking loud and clear and no one is listening to them because of Samantha’s twisted accusations (and of course the DICKS) .

  7. Heather

    You need to pitch this series as a podcast a la “Serial”!!!!

    1. Robin DesCamp

      I’m actually thinking I’ll audio record these…thanks for your comment!

  8. Milwaukie Country Club

    Robin, this is very good work. As a local lawyer I can assure you this is being followed closely, as many of us seek the downfall of the biggest embarrassment to the profession since Allan Knappenberger.

    By the way, I clicked on your “Art of the Blackball” post the other day and it reminded me to tell you:

    I am a member of what you have called “The Milwaukie Country Club” on your FB page (very funny, ha ha). When members found out we had accepted Portland Golf’s Club’s reject, and rumor has it the rejection was of historic proportions, we were not pleased. While not quite as loathsome as the boss, one can see that is his ultimate development goal. He has a certain smarminess and slickness about him that is unnerving. He also comes off as a relentless climber and self-promoter.

    Please ask PCG to reconsider and I’ll pay you handsomely.

    Keep working at this stuff. It’s important and damn it if it isn’t fun to read.

    1. Robin DesCamp

      I was just about to go out for a run (65 workouts in 65 days, thank you very much!) when your comment came in. I simply must respond immediately, so my run/walk/hobble can wait for a spell.

      1. I am thrilled every time I get an email like yours. I’ve been told one firm has a popcorn party every time I post, during which someone reads the blog aloud in a conference room and a good time is had by all. Next stop: turning my words into radio time so I can speak them myself and to a large audience! More on that coming up soon, my love!

      2. My condolences to you for your membership in MCC, also known as “Graverly” or “The Grave.” The Grave is a beautiful spot but the course is meaner than shit. It’s downright punitive – masochistic even. Your clubhouse needs some updating too; 1983 called and it wants its look back.

      3. Thank you for taking our trash. We do so appreciate it.

      Your member’s application was, in a word: interesting. While I won’t say much more than that, I can tell you that if one spends years shitting all over a very large number of people and being needlessly awful to them during the most difficult time in their lives, one should not be surprised when those people look upon your application to their club with amusement.

      Perhaps “amusement” isn’t the right word. “An opportunity for karmic justice” is a better description.

      Then again, I really don’t know. I wasn’t involved in the matter. We lowly spouse members don’t have a voice in the process.

      4. No amount of money in the world could make me want to see that person’s face at the place Mr. Patience and Understanding and I most love to spend time together. I’ll counter your offer with an offer of my own: there is someone I’d like to send over to Milwaukie Country Club. Let’s discuss terms over drinks at PGC, where the bar is modern and lovely and I don’t have to get stuck in a traffic jam to get there.

      5. Thank you.

  9. Lawyers in Love.

    When is the next installment??? Hurry! I’m on the edge of my seat, here!

  10. Stan

    This is a fascinating story and I’m loving the humor you insert. Poor Sarah! I can’t imagine having my dreams of growing old with a certain someone shattered because that certain someone allowed me to believe (and build a life upon) A COMPLETE LIE!! Sam is a faker and a liar. SO SELFISH!!

  11. The Cook

    Does Samantha know that her lawyers mocked her behind her back? Specifically SD (no longer there) and LH? Summer can verify but probably won’t. Ask her about the photos, Samantha. You think these people care about you and all the while they were laughing at you. I feel sorry for you but then again you chose those people so maybe you got what you deserved.

    1. Robin DesCamp

      I don’t know if that is true, but if it is that is truly despicable behavior. It turns my stomach, especially given the bar complaint Samantha will file against her ex-wife’s attorney after the trial for inadvertently using the wrong pronoun once or twice.

      1. Bud

        Wowza. You called that one early!

  12. John Crawford's Caddy

    LOL at “Milwaukie Country Club.” I know who you are talking about. This town is small and you described him perfectly. The only reason he got in is because everyone is afraid of pissing off the DICK. Nobody wanted the screaming phone calls that happened after the PGC ding, and I heard many calls were made, including to one doctor who hates her guts and laughed his ass off after she called. Like, what in God’s name made her think he would do anything BUT keep this guy out after what he and she did to him? Karmic justice, absolutely! Is she really that dumb???

  13. "Sister Morris"

    I did find a darling Burberry rain jacket in “Sarah’s” closet, my size, but she wouldn’t let me wear it. When I finally learned why, I wouldn’t have worn it for all the sour patch kids in the world. And I love me some sour gummies.

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