The tent in the frozen attic

Lefty Graves

**This article is based on nonfiction by actual events that were witnessed firsthand by me; used with permission.

It was the late fall when my ex-husband chose to stop taking his mental health medication. He would pace around the house and tell me weird things but the most frightening thing that he did was preach my funeral loudly to the household.

After a very traumatizing night, I managed to get a call out to our family doctor and she called him and told him that he was late for his appointment. She admitted him to the hospital that day. After she admitted him I went to see him and he told me to run far and stay away from him.

At this point, that’s exactly what I needed to hear to be able to tell him that he had to find another place to live until he was mentally healthy again. I didn’t know if or when he would ever be mentally healthy again so I left it at that and went home to pack the items that he had requested.

He stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks and then moved to a family friend's house for what was to be a few weeks. However, after two days the friends asked him to leave. This would go on for several different houses and friends before he finally wound up staying in a tent in a neighbor's frozen attic.

The neighbors were seldom home and said that he could stay there for 1 month. By now, three months had passed of his living with friends that were asking him to leave. He lived in the tent in the frozen attic for the one month that the friends said he could stay.

His visits to our child were ordered to be supervised by the judge as well as by the doctor. I felt bad that he was stuck living in a tent in a frozen attic but I didn’t dare let him back home. One afternoon I got a phone call from his doctor. She asked me if I would attend a session with him at his psychiatrist to see if he was deemed mentally competent again.

I drove him 65 miles to the psychiatrist's office and told him I’d be right back. I had to use the restroom. As I left the restroom he met me and walked to the elevator. I asked about his appointment and he told me that the doctor said he is fine.

I had a hard time believing him but when I attempted to go to the receptionist's desk he diverted me very brusquely. He demanded that we leave. I took him back to the neighbors freezing attic tent and left to call our family doctor. She told me that he never saw the doctor, that he had told the receptionist who he was, and that he wanted to cancel the appointment while I was in the restroom.

I filed for divorce shortly after this. I couldn’t trust him and he refused to take his medication. I never knew who or what I was dealing with when he was around. He would call me at all hours to complain that he was cold because the attic was frozen. I had to learn to not take his calls. I had to learn not to care that he was so cold.

He had done this to himself and I couldn’t take him back anymore. I had to preserve myself and my child. He finally moved from the frozen attic to a small apartment that he shared with several other men. His visitation with our child remained supervised and he tried time and again to blame me for his mental health condition.

When our divorce was final he married a woman he had known for years the following week. I hear that his new wife often visits friends or family that are out of the area. She called me once and asked if she could stay with me but I declined her self-invite.

What would you have done? Would you have let your ex’s new wife stay at your place? Would you have taken the blame for his living in a frozen attic if you’d been mentally abused by someone that refused to take his medication? Share in the comments.

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming & more. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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