Michelle, a woman abandoned by her husband

Michelle and Mark seemed to live a fairy-tale life. After an 18-month courtship, the couple married at a lavish ceremony on the coast of Italy. "I thought we were going to grow old together and be sipping lemonade on the porch with our grandchildren," Michelle says. "He really was my best friend."

Mark, a prominent sinus doctor, had a thriving practice outside Chicago. Michelle says the money poured in—as much as $200,000 a week. The couple enjoyed a private jet, an 80-foot yacht and frequent trips to Europe and the Caribbean.

After three years of marriage, Michelle says Mark prepared a once-in-a-lifetime surprise, flying friends and family to Greece to celebrate her 30th birthday. It was at this time that Michelle began to feel uneasy about her husband's behavior. "He was just agitated and crabby," she says. "He was being very secretive."

Michelle and Mark went to sleep in the cabin of their yacht. The next morning, everything she thought she knew about her husband turned out to be a lie.
Michelle and Oprah

When Michelle woke up the next morning, she had a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Mark was not on the boat, and Michelle knew in her heart that something was terribly wrong. "I started jogging around the whole island looking for him. Everybody kept telling me, 'Oh, he just went to go get something for your birthday.' I got progressively more hysterical. The captain said, 'I shouldn't tell you this, but he took a jet to Paris to set some diamonds.'"

Michelle's gut feeling was right—Mark never returned. Michelle's other hunch, that foul play was not involved, seems to be confirmed as well. "He's still alive and kicking," Michelle says, "and spending ridiculous amounts on his credit cards. He has cell phone numbers that I have been able to track to a certain extent, so [I know] he's out there. … I think he's on a sailboat in Italy or Greece sipping pastis."

Michelle says she is desperate to hear from Mark for one reason only—she wants her questions answered. "Why did you do this? How could you do this to the people that loved you the most?" she asks. "I would really like to see him again just to get some closure. I just feel old and unlovable. … I don't know what to do. I owe so much money, and I can't afford school anymore. I was really just so close to having everything and it was a really long way to fall. It hurts so badly."

"I really feel your pain," Dr. Robin tells Michelle, "but when you say that he was your best friend—he was not your best friend. … To be betrayed by your best friend is devastating, [but] to be betrayed by a user and a loser makes sense. … A best friend would never, ever betray you in that way."

Why did Michelle consider Mark her best friend, even though he let her down? "I knew he was a narcissist the whole time I was with him. We joked about it," Michelle says, "[But] he had a lot of good days. For every miserable thing he did, there were 10 other acts of generosity and caring."

"We need to increase the days of goodness and get rid of abuse, period," Dr. Robin says. "His shamelessness is a horrific injury to you, and there's nothing funny about it." Dr. Robin points out that Mark is so self-centered that he probably enjoys seeing his loved ones plead for his return. "[To] hear his brother calling out—a narcissist would love that because he's still the center. Somebody is still reaching out, wanting him. He'll love [this show]. … It makes him still feel so big and so important and so significant in a way to cover up how small and insignificant he really feels."
Dr. Robin and Oprah talk to Michelle

Michelle says that she is finding her own closure, but she would like closure from Mark, too. At least, she wonders, will he feel remorse on his deathbed?

"Can I tell you something?" Dr. Robin says. "He can't give you any [closure]. And he doesn't want to give you any. You don't exist to him. … He will die a liar. He will die someone who harmed and hurt people. And he will feel no pain for all the pain he's caused. That's devastating, but it's real."

"It doesn't matter how many times you go public," Oprah adds, "no matter how many stories you tell, and how many times you ask him to please call." Once we learn to fill ourselves up, she says—and not rely on other people in our lives to do it for us—we'll find happiness. "My sincere wish for you," Oprah tells Michelle, "is that you fill yourself up, so that when he shows up—whenever he shows up, if he ever shows up—you can say 'hello' and 'goodbye' in the same sentence."
FROM: The Man Who Conned Nine Women into Marriage
Published on February 13, 2006


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