The following is a transcript of the My Crazy Divorce podcast
Guest Name: JD McCabe
Release Date: 12.2.2021
Tom Milligan: Welcome back, everyone this is My Crazy Divorce. I’m your host, Tom Milligan. Last week’s show had a million-dollar divorce, which is pretty F’d up, but I’d rather spend a million dollars than go through what JD McCabe had to deal with. Trust me, JD’s story is completely insane and so is his ex-wife. Don’t believe me? Just wait a bit. You’ll come around. JD tells his story in his book, The Third Gift: My Dance with the Devil (and Her mother). I just listened to it on a recent drive from Utah to Florida and I’m telling you that this show just scratches the surface. After hearing the story read by JD himself, I’m humbled and flattered that he agreed to be on our show. I’ve put the link to his book in the show notes, go get that book.
JD McCabe: I wrote the book under a pseudonym. I changed the names and locations just to protect the privacy of not only my kids, but everybody that got pulled into it turned out to be a five-year nightmare. So, other than that, the book is real.
Tom Milligan: So buckle up this is a wild ride as always please remember if you’re in a bad relationship or a crazy divorce, seek qualified and licensed professional guidance from an attorney or a therapist. And to be clear, that’s not me, not even close and as always, if you have a crazy divorce story and you never got around to writing your book, so you’d like to share your story on our show instead, visit mycrazydivorce.com and click on the apply to be a guest button at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you.
Let’s get right into it. JD’s parents had nine children. JD is the middle child. He had what he calls a reasonably happy childhood growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
JD McCabe: I’d say that I had a very happy childhood, in early childhood, we learned about teamwork you pulled your weight, learned about work ethic. Everybody had their responsibilities, everybody’s got to pull their weight with a family at nine, but German, Irish, Catholic family, and my parents are now, both deceased, but again they taught us selflessness and they taught us to work ethic and they were all about their kids and did whatever they needed to do to provide for their children.
Tom Milligan: Raising nine kids and somehow instilling those values in all of them is a real Testament to JD’s parents. I wish more parents were like them. But having good parents doesn’t mean home life was always perfect.
JD McCabe: There was a point in time in there where they had separated, I had forgotten that it was that long, but there was some tension in the home. My father had developed a drinking problem, which caused some tension and as I got older, I also began to see his perspective and maybe why he turned to the bottle a little more than he should have. Nevertheless, they separated for six years, and even though, they separated, a couple of my brothers would live with my dad on and off but my dad was at the house every night for dinner.
Tom Milligan: JD’s parents knew how to co-parent before anyone ever called it co-Parenting.
JD McCabe: My parents ultimately ended up being married I think for 55 years, I think I lost track. I was 15, 14, anywhere between 14 and 16. So, I know that once we sold our original childhood home and we moved to a different location that my father then moved back into the house. They purchased a new home, and then he moved back in. My mother would joke with us later in life when we were adults that she let him back because they couldn’t afford to have him living away from the home. But she said it with a smile on her face, but they truly loved each other dearly. I think that’s the one thing I would take away from it is boy, they persevered, they were very happily married towards the end. So, they were there for each other; my mom was certainly right there by my dad’s side, as he battled with dementia, which ultimately took his life. And then quite ironically, my mom passed away from essentially the same thing a few years later.
Tom Milligan: JD and his siblings couldn’t help, but learn from the example set by their parents I wish I could have met them. JD’s family wasn’t the perfect nuclear family, but the kids knew they were loved and both parents played an active role in their lives. Unfortunately, JD’s future ex-wife – whom he calls Erin in his book – didn’t have that same experience.
JD McCabe: Her parents had divorced when she was two, her father came out and accepted his homosexuality and so they divorced when Erin was two.
Tom Milligan: I’m all for everyone being themselves but the absence of her father and her early life will come back to haunt her and everyone around her. After her father left, Erin’s mom was living in Cleveland, but met a guy and moved her family to the Pittsburgh area when Erin was six or seven years old, 15 years later, she met JD.
JD McCabe: I met her in the spring of 1991 and I met her playing on a slow pitch softball team. So, I was introduced to her by the third baseman we chatted it up a little bit after the game, and quite frankly, Tom there was some hesitation on my part in reaching out to her. I enjoyed the conversation…we had a couple of beers after the game, but she did inform me that she had been married before. So, she was 22 when I met her, I was 26, I believe.
Tom Milligan: Okay. 22 and and she’s already been divorced. No judgment here, but you got to admit that’s a bit strange. So what happened there?
JD McCabe: She was working as a receptionist or secretary at a specialty car distributor or car dealership; he was a car salesman there. She was 22, he was 32, he had an 11-year-old daughter the story that I would get from her and her grandmother and her mother was that she was looking for a father figure because she came from a single-parent family and her father wasn’t in her life much.
Tom Milligan: Did you catch that? Erin was 22 when she married the first guy with an 11-year-old daughter; Erin was also 22 when she met JD.
JD McCabe: Things began to fall apart on her honeymoon, even though her father who, again, she would later be estranged from, did offer up that her father spent a couple of days with them on her honeymoon at least, spent a couple of days to visit and whatever. But she said, yes, I never moved in with him after we came back from the honeymoon. I never moved in with him. My mom and brother and I cleared my stuff out of the apartment. And then I later got the marriage anulled. So, that was a significant red flag that I probably should have dug into a little bit deeper.
Tom Milligan: And this is the story JD gets over a couple of beers after a softball game. So it had to be love at first sight, right?
JD McCabe: I’ve thought nothing of her again, until I ran into her in a bar in Pittsburgh, three months later and my sophisticated line was, “I’ve been meaning to call you.” And she fired right back and said, “Well, I haven’t been sitting by the phone waiting.” So I’m like, ah, okay, boom.
Tom Milligan: Okay. So not exactly love at first sight, but the boom is right. I love the attitude, but take a look at the name of this episode anytime you start to feel sorry for Erin, or if you think she’s doing anything remotely, normal. JD learned a lot of this story after the fact, he didn’t see it in real-time because, well…
JD McCabe: So she was brilliantly wickedly, evil.
Tom Milligan: She spent years working on her plan in secret so a lot of what you’ll hear are stories, she told JD that he later found out were lies. For example, Erin was estranged from her father for many years.
JD McCabe: And I know when we were dating, she would tell me about all the trips and time she would spend with her father, whether it was in Chicago or Florida. But the story I got was that he was controlling, he was abusive, but the fact that her brother didn’t have a relationship with her dad, the fact her mother and her grandmother kind of corroborated the story I guess was good enough for me at the time. She was estranged from her father for 10 years, as a result of what happened in her first marriage because her father, when that first marriage fell apart, her father took in her ex-husband and I could never understand that. But her story to me would be, well, my father’s gay and he always attracted to my ex-husband. So I would later discuss that yes, indeed her father did take in her ex-husband but he also lived with his lifelong life partner and there was another woman in the home.
Tom Milligan: I know crazy, right? No wonder she didn’t want to spend time with her father. Let’s put a pin in that part of the story and get back to JD and Erin but trust me, her father will come up later after their second meeting, JD and Erin started dating.
JD McCabe: But at the time she started dating me, it was casual I wasn’t looking for anything, super-serious didn’t know where it was going to head, but she was dating two other guys as well. So, I remember when she came to me and said that I decided that I want to date you exclusively…and I was thrilled.
Tom Milligan: Yes, I’ll bet. JD beat out the other two guys for Erin’s affection that had to be a big ego boost. But later after everything happened, he got the thinking.
JD McCabe: I knew she was casually dating these two other guys I can only imagine now what casual meant to her. But I look at that now Tom, I go, wait a minute, you came out of an abusive marriage in March of 91, you start dating me and two other guys in less than two or three months. To me, that’s a pretty big red flag that says, well, wait a minute don’t you need time for you, don’t you need time to heal?
Tom Milligan: But he wasn’t thinking that way in 1991, he was in love.
JD McCabe: October 22nd, 1992. She was in a pretty intensive two-year program to get an associates degree in radiologic technology, a pretty intense program. I had some plans to take her up on the incline to Mount Washington in Pittsburgh it’s beautiful at night, but she had taken a physics test that day and thought she had done poorly on it. So I decided to accelerate the, I had the ring and everything so I got down on one knee in my little living room, the first house that I bought and I asked her to marry me and the rest is history, as they say. We got married on September 11th, 1993, so less than a year and then we had our son, we had him on January 17th, 1995. So less than two years into the marriage.
Tom Milligan: Life was pretty good for the new family.
JD McCabe: Money was not a problem, we weren’t flush, but I began my career in the pharmaceutical industry in 91. I started as a sales rep and the compensation was very good. Once we got married, which I was fine with, she only wanted to work part-time as an x-ray tech. I’m like, that’s great she wanted to settle in and become a little more of a homemaker and so forth, so on and I’m like, that’s fine. So, she worked part-time and we had the ability for her to be able to do that. We didn’t live an extravagant lifestyle again; I was living in a 900 square foot home. So it wasn’t like we were drowning in debt, but yes, so no, we were very comfortable.
Tom Milligan: JD did his best to be a good husband and father. It sounds like he was able to provide for the family and that he supported her dreams of being a mom and a homemaker. And it also sounds like she was a good wife and mother, but after a few years, things started to change.
JD McCabe: It was in 2010, the 17th or 18th year in that she began to subtly accuse me of infidelity – and that would be subtle. She would do it every three, four months or so.
Tom Milligan: And this wasn’t a one-time thing. These subtle accusations continued for years trust me when I tell you they weren’t so subtle later on, but for now, she’d keep them pretty tame.
JD McCabe: It would be off and on and I got to a point where I would laugh it off and that’s another red flag too, to say, look, maybe you’re cheating on me. I didn’t understand the concept of projection at that point. I kind of laughed it off and I never thought twice about her cheating on me.
Tom Milligan: How anyone could laugh off accusations like that is beyond me. I’d just be pissed, but JD’s a good man because of his ability to laugh it off and since money was good and the kids were healthy, life was good. But remember her father, the one she hasn’t spoken to in years?
JD McCabe: We had two children, Billy and Katie. So when Billy was about five, they both knew about grandpa they knew that mom had not talked to grandpa in years. So, Billy innocently suggested why don’t you call him? And she did…and we came back from the pool one beautiful sunny afternoon in North Carolina and she had a message on the old school answering machine from her father.
Tom Milligan: Wouldn’t it be great if that was the end of our story? And they lived happily ever after, but that’s not our show, is it?
JD McCabe: Yes, I’m glad she had five years of his life because five years in, he had a massive heart attack, and essentially she had to decide to take him off life support. Two years later, his lifelong life partner passed away at a relatively young age too. I believe he was 61, 62 and those two deaths pushed her over the edge.
Tom Milligan: Pushed her over the edge of what? Well let’s get started. At about the time of her father’s death, Erin wasn’t feeling so hot. So JD and Erin spent thousands on doctors, cardiologists trying to get to the bottom of her symptoms.
JD McCabe: At about seven years into the marriage in 2001, when we moved down to North Carolina, she began seeing a rheumatologist to be evaluated for autoimmune disease.
Tom Milligan: JD would go with her to many appointments and since he’s kind of in the business, he knew her exhaustion fell right in line with her heart autoimmune diseases, but her diseases weren’t the only problem.
JD McCabe: And that’s when she started to see a therapist to come to terms with the loss of her father and the loss of her father’s life partner. I fully supported it, but on occasion she would come and say, if I wasn’t traveling, I worked from home and she would say, well, you know what? My therapist says I should have access to your emails and I should have access to your phone. And I’m like, you do, I don’t have a passcode on my phone you swipe it you’re in, you know what my password is for my account. I’ve got nothing to hide and it, but with time, I became a little more defensive.
Tom Milligan: Well, you can’t blame him; remember she’s been subtly accusing him of cheating for years at this point.
JD McCabe: Because of her alleged autoimmune disease, I had done a lot of research on it. I knew that she was having neurological issues, she was having significant health issues, but I knew that it could affect the mind too. So, I kind of discounted some of her paranoia, I discounted some of her accusations by going, okay, this is perhaps just her lupus talking.
Tom Milligan: He has the patience of job at the suggestion of her therapist she started volunteering.
JD McCabe: And then after her father passed away, she got involved in volunteering for a program for terminally ill cancer patients at a pretty esteemed academic med center. I applauded her for that I know that she legitimately was involved because I’m met the social workers and the other people at fundraising functions. And we contributed some money, and it was a very noble program that she would go and sit with cancer patients whose families needed a break.
Tom Milligan: Sounds like a great program and as Mahatma Gandhi taught; the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. So, JD supported her as she fought the autoimmune disease, laughed off her subtle and not so subtle accusations of cheating, and in her demanding volunteer position. If you see a picture of JD, you’ll see that he’s a fit guy. He used to be much larger.
JD McCabe: I used to be a pretty good size guy I used to go 255, 260 in the book I’m quite generous to myself, I call myself 225, but as I look back at some pictures, now I’m going, there’s no way you were 225. But I was a fairly good-sized boy and my son who was a gym rat at the time, inspired me to begin working out. He gave me a little workout card, I laminated it, still have it today. I said I need something that I can get in and out of the gym and the hour was just lifting and weights. No cardio, nothing too intense, and at his counseling, I started taking some protein powder. He’s like dad, you’re going to need to take some protein after your workout and I’m like, sure.
Tom Milligan: Erin is the only daughter in her family so she was very close to her mother.
JD McCabe: So, I would describe it as kind of a codependent relationship now, you have clarity in hindsight. They were extremely close and even once we got married, she was intimately involved in our lives, and this was after her stepfather would pass away when he was relatively young at the age of 57. And so her mom was pretty much on her own, her brother moved back to the Pittsburgh area to be closer to his mother, to provide some support. But she and her mother were extremely close they would talk two or three times a day, again, we’d go on vacation we’d include her on vacation. She was welcomed into our home many times, we were welcomed into her home, but yes, they were inseparable.
Tom Milligan: Being close to your mother is great, but two or three calls a day?! But these two ladies got together, and instead of supporting JD’s desire to be more healthy, immediately accused him of getting in shape because he was cheating on Erin. But that’s not the worst of it.
JD McCabe: Less than six weeks, Tom, I lost 35 pounds, and then it was 40 then it was 45 and in less than two months or a little bit over two months, it was a very short period. I lost 70 pounds.
Tom Milligan: 70 pounds crazy, but it sounds like a great workout plan.
JD McCabe: He’s getting in shape, he’s losing weight and then the accusations of drug addiction started – and she would mock me on many occasions. She would pull the protein powder out of the cupboard and go, I know for sure you’re putting something in your protein. And I will be like, it’s a hundred percent weight protein, I’m like, ironically, I did say to her, go get it tested. Ironically I did say, go get it tested.
Tom Milligan: Look, I don’t like Erin and I know she’s just pure evil, but you got to admit when someone loses 70 pounds in two months, something’s going on.
JD McCabe: And then I started to experience some significant medical symptoms; tingling in my fingers and toes, a lot of intestinal issues difficulty swallowing, dizzy spells, stiffness in the neck, joint pain. And with the continued weight loss, I began to get evaluated for that went to see my family practitioner and they discovered that there were some significant elevations and white blood cell counts. There was an elevation in liver enzymes there were elevations in another enzyme called Creatine Phosphokinase, which is indicative of either having a heart attack, a stroke, or a traumatic muscle crushing injury but I had none of those things. So, eventually, I would be evaluated for leukemia early onset of Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s they couldn’t find anything.
Tom Milligan: This just sucks, I would hate to live in this household, but now Erin’s mom gets involved.
JD McCabe: So we were on a beach trip in Topsail Island, North Carolina, just her family so, it was Erin and two kids and her brother and his two kids – and it was the longest week of my life. Never felt more alone. But I came up from the beach one day and I don’t know where they had gone or where they came up to get a drink. And they’re standing at the end of a long counter…she just looks at me with death in her eyes and says, if you put your hands on my daughter, I will kill you.
Tom Milligan: What the hell? Where did this come from?
JD McCabe: Perhaps you’re addicted to porn, perhaps you’re addicted to drugs there’s something deeper going on with you, perhaps something that happened in your childhood that you need to figure out what’s going on.
Tom Milligan: Well, she seems nice.
JD McCabe: The interesting thing though, was on that beach trip, as I said, her brother was there but never once did I hear from him? Never once did he come to me and say, look, my little sis, as he used to call her, my little sis has got some concerns and she’s afraid of you and sees some of your anger out burse we need to talk about that. No, never once. Now I initiated a conversation with him when we were cooking one night at the grill, just to make sure that I let him know that I’ve never been inappropriate with another woman and that I loved his sister dearly. And all he said to me, looked at me, sternly in the eye, and said are you sure? I said, I’m sure, but I never heard anything from him about her fear or whatever. So I don’t know if that communication made it to her brother or not. I don’t know why her mother wouldn’t have gone to him and said, you need to have a conversation with him, but it never happened.
Tom Milligan: Noted. Mother-in-law is full of shit. Down 70 pounds, accused of cheating, doing drugs, and threatened by his mother-in-law, JD made a huge mistake and it just happens to be the same mistake I made.
JD McCabe: The biggest mistake that I made is I told nobody. I have a large network with family, I have a nice network and confidants at work that I could trust. I told nobody. And it’s not a male pride thing…it was for me, just trying to figure out what is going on here? What is going on here? And so I isolated myself, putting myself on an island and our kids didn’t even know.
Tom Milligan: I get it after my ex cheated the first time (that I know of) she begged me not to tell anyone. So I told no one. She went to therapy and had her friend supporting her but I didn’t tell a soul. I carried her sins on my shoulders – and those sins got heavy. After her second affair, I got therapy and reached out to my network of family and friends for support. They saved my life. Please don’t make the same mistake JD and I made by keeping it to yourself. Get help.
JD McCabe: The fights, the arguments continue to escalate, the accusing, the false accusations, her paranoia, her delusions. I would get to a point on weekends that I would put in the music buds and go get busy, doing work, washing windows, cutting grass, just keeping myself busy, keeping my distance. Our son was away at college, spent the summer at college working and doing whatever he didn’t know about any discord, in the home. And this is also when my now ex-wife began to use our daughter as a weapon and begin to let her know that, now, dad’s got some issues – and these are things I would later discover when my daughter would come back into my life, that she would open up and share a few things about what mom had told her, which was not factual at all. So she started to kind of alienate everybody from me and she even made some phone calls to some of my close family members planting the seed that he’s got some anger issues and I’m starting to see some things that are a concern. And so, she started to build her little camp of what they call, negative advocates.
Tom Milligan: Okay. I hate Erin.
JD McCabe: So she was brilliantly wickedly evil.
Tom Milligan: So JD is down 70 pounds has some unknown disease. His wife is accusing him of cheating and using drugs and his mother-in-law is accusing him of all sorts of stuff. And if that’s not bad enough, now, Erin is weaponizing his family, including his daughter against him saying he has anger issues. Not surprisingly, at this point of the story, JD and Erin hadn’t been intimate for months, but for some reason, Erin decided to change that up. So over a single weekend, after no sex for months, the couple was intimate several times. And then nothing. Strange. Stay tuned. It will all make sense.
JD McCabe: So, the weight loss continued the tension in the home continued, I agreed that, alright, I’ll do whatever I need to do. So I agreed, I’m like, fine I’ll go sit down with a psychiatrist to evaluate if there are some mood issues. And this is where my mother’s story comes into play a little bit because my mom could be quite moody at times and, she could be quite moody at times, and I started, again, you start pulling on every little thread to go, well, my mom can be moody. So maybe that’s what she’s saying when in fact none of it was truthful, but I got in my head, I had nobody else objectively telling me, I allowed her to take my identity as a man and as a father. And the only reason she was able to do that is that I isolated myself and shared none of this with anybody.
Tom Milligan: JD says he got in his head, but what he’s describing is gaslighting at its finest.
JD McCabe: So she was brilliantly wickedly evil.
Tom Milligan: A trained psychiatrist would see right through this facade. So JD and Erin could put this behind them once and for all.
JD McCabe: September 9th I go see a psychiatrist my now ex-wife was gracious enough to go with me and Tom, in less than 30 minutes, I was diagnosed with bipolar too. This was at the age of 49, okay, I had no family history of mental health I had no previous mental health issues it’s unheard of.
Tom Milligan: Wait what? How?
JD McCabe: Fill out your little bipolar two questionnaires she’s sharing some things that are going on in the home. I’m sharing a few things thinking yes, well, when we fight or whenever we have a little argument, I’ll go about my business and I’ll get busy I’ll keep myself busy. Ding, well maybe that’s mania, maybe you get into these manic states. So, they picked up on a couple of little signals they had her questionnaire that she checked all 10 boxes I checked a handful of them. And she’s like; you know what sounds like perhaps bipolar two we’ll have to explore it a little bit further.
Tom Milligan: Throughout this entire time, JD and Erin had gone to couples therapy and had even engaged with a deacon in their church. And after agreeing to see a psychiatrist to put her accusations to rest, JD has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’m sure Erin was pleased as punch with that diagnosis – but I know JD was piss.
JD McCabe: We have gotten into a little bit of a tiff? I’d suggested, look, why don’t you go have dinner with a girlfriend? The psychiatrist, at the time told me to look, you might want to stay away from alcohol, which could make your condition worse. So I had three or four beers over four hours she came bouncing back in the door, nine o’clock, 9:30 at night, smelled beer on my breath, and locked herself in the guest room. You’re not supposed to be drinking. And I opened the guest room door that she had locked, I opened it with a little pick key that was above the door, I didn’t go in the room, I stayed outside, I simply wanted clarity on whatever we had argued about that day. It was probably something so trivial, so stupid, but that was her game. She wouldn’t answer me and I made a mistake, closing the door and said, well, maybe the good Lord will take me tonight and your problems will be solved. So she seized on that like, okay, he’s suicidal.
Tom Milligan: Great, so Erin gets to add suicide to her claims against JD, what can he do? So JD goes into another room in the house to decompress.
JD McCabe: Less than five minutes. I hear the garage door going up I gently walk downstairs I open the garage door I’m standing up on the landing. She’s got her windows strategically down she’s got mom on speaker phone and I hear mom yelling, get out of there, I simply asked her, where are you going?
Tom Milligan: She left but JD knew what was coming next. So he finally reached out to his brother, Al and brothers do, Al and his wife came immediately.
JD McCabe: I called my brother Al and his wife, Jane, my heroes. They were there for me and continue to be there for me and my kids 24/7, whenever I needed them. And I don’t hesitate to say it I’ve told this to them they’ve saved my life. They saved my life.
Tom Milligan: Let me say it one more time. Don’t try to do this alone, get help.
JD McCabe: The cop showed up I told the cop had a conversation with him, was honest with him hey, look, I was diagnosed with bipolar three, four days ago had three or four beers over four hours. But I said, officer, I’m concerned about her mental wellbeing told him I’m in the medical field, the pharmaceutical field with her autoimmune disease. I know that it can attack you neurologically, but she’s coming at me with all sorts of delusional, paranoia, accusations I don’t know where they come from very calm with him. Okay. He leaves the porch figured, okay, everything’s good here this guy seems okay.
At this point, JD knew that was getting real, he also knew Erin had already turned his daughter against him. So it was only a matter of time before she tries to do the same with our son who was away at college.
JD McCabe: He needed to hear from me what I was being accused of and I needed to have him stand by me and believe in me, which he always did. But to have that conversation with one of your kids that hey, your mom’s accusing me of infidelity. Your mom’s accusing me of doing drugs, I beg you I plead with you please believe that none of this is true.
Tom Milligan: At about this point Erin retains a divorce attorney.
JD McCabe: That was the other thing that kind of broke me like, wow, this is real. Okay, this getting real here when she came to me at 11:30 one night, the grin on her face, and said, I’ve retained an attorney. I’m going to go talk to somebody tomorrow just to see what my options are and then she fires at me. She says, your face turned white when I told you that, I’m like, yeah, no, it turned white we’re talking about separation we’re talking about dissolving our family unit, yes, it did, it did turn white.
Tom Milligan: She says, she just wants to know her options. But JD is crushed a few days later; she exercises one of those options.
JD McCabe: At that point, she’s like, we need to separate and it was at that point that I’m like, fine we’ll separate. And it was the longest Sunday of my life and I said to her, look, I agree to separate for a little while as long as you tell me that there’s a chance that we can continue to work in therapy and continue to work through this and figure this out. And she never answered that question so I know what the answer is now, but she never answered that question.
Tom Milligan: After all this and he still wants to work it out.
JD McCabe: The thought of losing my family, my family was everything. As they say, the devil attacks your strength and turns it into your weakness. And so my strength was my love for my family, the family unit that we had built, and the thought of losing that just crushed me.
Tom Milligan: JD is a good man he doesn’t deserve it, any of this, but it’s about to get even worse.
JD McCabe: So I was due the following day, September 15th to go for a follow-up with my family practitioner because of the weight loss, because of all the unexplained medical issues that continued. She went with me again; my savior went with me again. We didn’t talk about any of my health issues, but she proceeded to talk to him about everything that transpired that weekend. And in less than two minutes with his back turn to me, he’s like, yes, sounds like bipolar less than two minutes. And if you don’t go to a particular psychiatric hospital, I will have you involuntarily committed.
Tom Milligan: What the hell? This is crazy! Or is it just brilliant?
JD McCabe: So she was brilliantly wickedly, evil. She planned this out and it was all coming together so perfectly because I would ultimately be diagnosed, misdiagnosed I should state, but diagnosed nonetheless with bipolar two…spent nine days in a psychiatric facility. It further cemented her story about my moods and issue, it gave her perfect ammunition and her story was perfect. She hollowed me out, literally pushed me to the edge, and even though I spent nine days in psychiatric lockup when I was in there, I thought this is rock bottom and everything’s got to be okay from here. Because what she wrote me the most beautiful letter when I was in the psychiatric lock up, the letter essentially said, I don’t ever want to see you as emotionally lost as you were when you were in the acute care hospital. And then they transported me to a psychiatric hospital for six days. The beautiful letter left a couple of pictures of the kids gave me her grandmother’s prayer book, her grandmother had passed at that point, but I felt okay, like, alright, once we get out to here, everything’s going to be alright.
Tom Milligan: She’s a real sweetheart. Maybe she’s feeling guilty about lying about JD.
JD McCabe: She would go from this loving, sweet, compassionate, pull me back in to, I got a call one night when I was in the psychiatric facility, we took our calls on a lovely payphone it was nine o’clock at night. They had just started me on an antipsychotic, which I didn’t need to be on but you start feeling the side of effects I’m like, I’m going to try to sleep because I didn’t sleep at all when I was in there. Somebody knocked on my door and said, your wife’s on the phone and I got up picked up the phone I had thought about it for a few minutes thinking I don’t want to talk to her. That was our daughter, her 16th birthday I missed her 16th birthday because I was in psychiatric lockup. So, I talked to her briefly and I said, pick up the phone I said, hello now, what does she do? She laughs in my face she says, I don’t know when you’re going to get out of there and I said, I’m in psychiatric lockup for seven days and you’re laughing in my face. I said, I should hang up on you and I should have hung up on her but she says, it’s just my nerves, Danny just my anxiety.
Tom Milligan: Nope, no guilt, no shame, and no hope.
JD McCabe: Fortunately folks got involved after I was in psychiatric lockup a couple of my brothers came to town, even though I’m telling them no, I’m good you don’t need to come to town, they ignored that. Thank God, came to town and they saw what I failed to see that she set me up. So they made arrangements to, sit down they made special arrangements to sit down with my social worker, her to find out how the hell did this happen? How did he get involuntarily committed? And how did we get him out of here?
Tom Milligan: Thank God for family. But where’s Erin?
JD McCabe: They invited her to go to this meeting with the social worker, she didn’t show up. She was too busy out-running errands, which I would later discover as I looked at our bank statement, she was too busy going to Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitter, just out, running around she couldn’t make time to come. The nine days I was in there she came and visited twice, I’m feeling like I’m at rock bottom it can’t get any worse. But boy, how wrong was I? I was so far off, the abuse would continue when I got out of there, people would say to me, well, why did you stay so long? Because again, it was that I hate you don’t leave me we’d have some intimacy, we’d feel like we’re making progress, making some baby steps. We’re communicating a little bit more and then boom, the next day it’s she’s throwing some other type of grenade at me.
Tom Milligan: I can’t believe it took this long for him to hit rock bottom but here we are at this point, his brother Al begged him to start documenting everything. So, JD kept a journal of everything that happened and became the foundation of his book.
JD McCabe: So I stayed in the marriage for seven or eight months and in May of 2015 she used our daughter essentially to exile me from the home saying why don’t you just go to a hotel for just a week until our daughter calms down? Because our daughter got to the point that mom was establishing false expectations with her, our daughter at the age of 15, 16 was essentially running our marriage. And lo, I gave up my right to discipline her because I had just been in psychiatric lockup Dad’s got mood issues so dad, please, I didn’t discipline her. So, I abdicated my own home and she used it’s like, why don’t you go for a week until she calms down? Little did I know that a week meant you’re not coming back in?
Tom Milligan: Now that she’s taken everything and he’s living in a hotel, JD decides to go to church.
JD McCabe: The first night that I went to the hotel that I’m like, yes, I’ll go for a week. I’m going to go to church; Sunday night mass, I texted her, I said, I’m going to mass if you want to join me, didn’t expect her to join me but boy, she joined me and throughout the entire mass, we’re holding hands. I’m crying, she’s crying, she put on a hell of a show and again, I’m heading back to the hotel with it’s going to be alright, we’ll take some time apart, it will be alright and she played me like a fiddle. So I know you don’t know our father but there’s a line in our father that says and deliver us from evil and boy did he deliver me from evil. He would deliver me from evil in the form of herpes.
Tom Milligan: Herpes! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse.
JD McCabe: We decided we’re going to mediate; July 7th, 2015 would be our first mediation. I had no idea where the marriage was headed at that point, I’m living out of my car, living out of a hotel, living on the generosity of some of my family members, making lots of trips back to Pittsburgh just to be around family and have a sense of unity because I didn’t have that anymore in North Carolina with my family. And so we go to the first mediation and my attorney warned me, she’s like look, she’s been a stay-at-home mom, you’ve been married 22 years, I think at this point they’re going to try to take off both your arms and legs. So when that offer comes just breathe. Once I get the offer, it’s difficult to breathe because they want us to stay married to what? They want me to open up a life insurance policy for a million dollars in her name for the next 13 years, we knew that it was all outlandish, but then the grenade came.
So I should say that going into our first mediation, I was still in love with her, don’t know why I still was holding on to the thought of family and working things out and my first meeting with my attorney was look, can I just get access to some of the money in our slush fund so I can find a reasonable place to live, I can’t live out of a hotel anymore and that’s what I thought was going to potentially happen but that didn’t happen. So they dropped this ridiculous offer on us; the mediator then says, it’s another attorney going in between two rooms says, by the way, you’re soon-to-be ex-wife wanted me to let you know that you gave her herpes 2. And of course, my response wasn’t as soft as this, but it was what the fuck, I gave her what?
Tom Milligan: What the fuck is right, remember that intimate weekend?
JD McCabe: And I looked at the lab test, I’m in that field; I looked at it, I go wow she has herpes. But it was a wake-up smack across the face from God, so its a wake up to say your marriage is over here, now you need to begin to pray that you tested negative because we were together three nights a row, two or three weeks before I left the house and we had not been together in four months. So again, it’s that false sense of being intimate and thinking everything’s good and then before you know it you’re out of the house and then you get this accusation dropped on you. I knew I hadn’t been with anybody but I just had to pray to God that I tested negative for it, but it was the third gift that herpes.
Tom Milligan: The third gift is herpes. I admit I don’t talk to a lot of people about herpes but I’ve never met anyone until now, of course, that refers to herpes as a gift.
JD McCabe: The first two gifts are my kids; the third gift provided me so much clarity that it set me free emotionally, it enabled me to re-establish who I was as a man, who I was as a father. Certainly no longer a husband, but who I was as a man and as a father.
Tom Milligan: And with that gift, JD knows it’s over. He’s been playing defense long enough, she used her positive herpes test as proof that he was cheating on her.
JD McCabe: Made my way to my computer, we hired a private investigator, the wheels started turning quickly as I’m on my way to our family practitioner to get tested for herpes. And I will state right now, I tested negative for herpes. I’ve had two or three tests throughout all our legal stuff and I was negative for herpes and negative for every STD, thank God because the majority of STDs are cured by one or two doses of antibiotics, which I would later discover that she had a boatload of antibiotics that she was taking unbeknownst to me, I found those buried; not buried but I found them in our pharmacy claims. I looked at five years of pharmacy claims, five years of medical claims and boy did she have an extensive run of not only pharmacy prescriptions but just seeing physicians I had no idea she was seeing.
Tom Milligan: JD was relieved to be negative for herpes but the discovery that Erin had been taking boatloads of antibiotics sure came as a shock but that discovery led to even more.
JD McCabe: That’s also where I discovered her hidden prescription drug addiction. I opened up the pharmacy claims; it’s the first place I went. I’m like if she’s got herpes she has to be on something for herpes, didn’t know what she would take because I didn’t know anything about STDs at that point, learned a lot, learned more than I wanted to. But I just see these pharmacy claims; two pharmacy claims every month going back five years, going back to 2010, they were amphetamines. So it was Adderall, Adderall XR and I would later discover that she used our kids for two years to fill 600 days’ worth in their names because her provider, her supplier, a physician would get into trouble with the DEA in the North Carolina Medical Board.
Tom Milligan: Nice, right but come on who among us hasn’t used their children to commit insurance fraud and to get illegal prescription narcotics.
JD McCabe: All of it made sense, all of her unexplained cardiac issues that we spent thousands of dollars on going to see cardiologists for tilt-table tests, cardiac catheterizations. But yet she never told her cardiologist that I was there with her most of the time, she never said, by the way, I’d taken three different formulations of amphetamines.
Tom Milligan: Erin seemed to always be sick, in fact, years earlier her mother was suspicious.
JD McCabe: Something her mother whispered into my ear in 2013 when she came down because Erin was having significant health issues. Her mother whispered to me, does she want something to be wrong with her? The answer to that question is yes, she enjoyed it and so they believe that she has not only borderline personality disorder but probably Munchausen also known now as factitious disorder. But she thrived when she would see specialists and that would consume a lot of her day, that would consume a lot of our free time was seeing this specialist, that specialist but all of her medical issues were either fabricated in her mind or they were a result of the multiple numbers of medications she was taking.
So, again being in the industry, I began to look at every one of her medications and figure out what kind of side effects; so for instance, she suffered from chronic constipation and would ultimately end up having 95% of her large bowel removed because of chronic constipation, but never once said, I should probably dial back on somebody’s medication.
Tom Milligan: 95% of her what removed? That sounds terrible, I have to say that Erin is either very committed to her fake illnesses or her addiction to prescription meds is very powerful.
JD McCabe: Very prestigious clinic down in Florida that she made two trips to, I didn’t go with her, I stayed home with our kids. I never asked her to see the medical records, never once looked at any of it, and trusted her blindly. Now she doesn’t have it, she does not have an autoimmune disease and this is how I got dragged into court for domestic violence charges.
Tom Milligan: Dear Lord, now it’s domestic violence; this woman!
JD McCabe: She accused me of hacking routers, hacking her emails, stealing credit cards, bugging her phone, putting cameras in doorbells. I hadn’t seen her in four months and she dragged our daughter into court to potentially testify against me and thank God that she didn’t, but her delusions were off the charts. So she had made 17 hours’ worth of calls to our security system ADT and 22 hours of calls to Time Warner Cable, she made that many calls to these people with delusional thoughts that I know he is been in this, he’s been in that and she would forget certain things that happened and they’re like, no madam he has no access to your account, you’re the one that called in and added your kids as emergency contacts on the security system.
When some of the recordings, when she’s talking about, I got to learn how to use a gun and I’m like, dear God don’t let her get a gun. It all started making sense to me, first of all, not only all of her cardiac issues but all of her paranoia and delusions. Paranoia and delusions are fueled not only by her amphetamines but by her benzodiazepines and some other medications that she was taking. Her paranoia got to the point that it was off the charts.
Tom Milligan: It does make sense. Remember way back at the beginning of our story when JD suddenly lost 70 pounds and then got sick, she poisoned him, she added something probably arsenic to his protein powder, and she tried to kill him. I don’t need a degree in mental illness to know that she’s just not all there, in fact, she’s delusional after four failed mediations and before going to trial, they settled everything 50/50 except for alimony. If they were able to resolve everything else 50/50, why the fight over alimony?
JD McCabe: The only reason I fought it was because in the state of North Carolina, if there’s proof of infidelity, there is no alimony; it’s the law. She destroyed evidence, we had an STD expert testify on our behalf, we had her OB/GYN testify on what he saw and the lesions that he swabbed that the DNA tested for herpes two that is a hundred percent reliable. But despite all that, in spite of our STD experts sitting on the stand going, she’s got both and she got neither from him. This is an infectious disease expert that brilliant, knew what he was talking about.
Tom Milligan: But where did she get herpes, anyway?
JD McCabe: She got involved in volunteering for a program for terminally ill cancer patients at a pretty esteemed academic med center; I applauded her for that but a lot of her volunteering happened at night. She would come to me at 8, 8:30 at night and say, we have somebody actively dying, do you mind if I go and I’d be like, no, of course not and I even offered to drive her because I was familiar with the area of the hospital and wasn’t in a bad area, but I didn’t like her in a parking deck alone at night. And she’d like, no, I’ll simply call security but there were many times and again, I look back now and go, dammit man, why?
There were many times she wouldn’t come home till 6, 6:30 in the morning, nobody was there to relieve me, I’m so sorry and she would come home looking worn out. And I believed her, I felt bad for her, I’m like, you need to get some sleep, all the while now I’m thinking she’s got to be looking at me going, you’re a dumb son of a bitch, you have no idea what I’m doing.
Tom Milligan: I’m no judge but this seems open and shut, right? She’s using her cancer volunteering gig to sleep around and then contracted herpes from that. To me, that’s proof of infidelity and JD shouldn’t have to pay, period. So how much did it cost him to fight this alimony?
JD McCabe: I stopped counting after 200,000 but I probably spent 250, 260 maybe more.
Tom Milligan: I don’t know how much she was asking for but $200,000 to fight it is only worth it if he wins.
JD McCabe: We ended up in a four-day alimony trial in August 2016, things would drag on with what they call a Rule 59 motion that I filed. Essentially, we’d be dancing through the court system, if you add in a domestic violence trial; we’d dance through the court system for over two and a half to three years. So, hopefully, you don’t have any personal experience with it, but it’s so backlogged that once the initial ruling from our alimony trial came down and I wanted to fight it, I wanted to take a step before I’d have to go to an appeals court. There was a step I could take, we waited 13 months for that motion to be heard, 13 months for the judge to give us 45 minutes to essentially say, I’m not going to consider your new evidence.
The new evidence was that I went and got tested again for herpes because the judge in her ruling found that she’s got herpes, he tested negative but it’s possible he may not have antibodies yet, so I’m like, well, I’ll be damned, I’m going to go get another test. My attorney didn’t suggest it but I took it on my own to go, if that’s her ruling then all I got to do is prove that I don’t have antibodies, that should be good to go, right? Well, no, she decided she’s going to uphold the law at that point and they essentially said, well, you could have had another test before the trial, like why won’t you hear this new evidence? I don’t have it, she has it, so she’s like, I’ll change a few words in my ruling but it’s not going to change the order, you can appeal this if you wanted to. But at that point it would be another two to three years, another $50,000 and I’m like, I’m done. So a long story short, she was awarded nine years of alimony.
Tom Milligan: After years of abuse, fake illnesses, suspected arsenic poisoning, drug addiction, parental alienation, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical expenses, JD is ordered to pay nine years of alimony. Shame on the judge for being so obtuse in her ruling, every divorce has a sad ending because divorce sucks but JD was very fortunate to somehow keep his career on track through this ordeal.
JD McCabe: I was promoted into his position two months after I got out of the psychiatric facility.
Tom Milligan: But even more important than his career are his children. Remember his son never believed what his mom was saying about him but his 15-year-old daughter was weaponized and alienated against JD, earlier on he writes about this in his book.
JD McCabe: My favorite chapter in the book is when my daughter came back into my life, it’s called hi daddy, Chapter 19, she recognized when she was living with mom, started to see it for herself, she was 16 almost 17. Recognized it for herself, came home from high school one day and mom couldn’t walk, mom couldn’t talk, there was dog food all over the floor and she ended up taking mom to the emergency room, she stayed with mom and then her girlfriends and another parent came, I went nowhere near any of it but came to the emergency room and she was in withdrawal. And the only reason I know that she was in withdrawal was because at that point I had full access to her pharmacy claims and I watched everything that she filled almost daily.
Tom Milligan: At this point of the show I normally share some bits of wisdom our guest has learned along the way, and I’m going to get to that in a minute but before I do, I wanted to share a personal story with you. My interviews for this show with JD lasted over four hours, just a day or two before our first interview; I’d posted a TikTok video to our followers letting them know of a personal tragedy. When we’d finished recording that first session, JD spends another 30 minutes with me asking how I was doing, asking if he could help, and showing genuine concern for my wellbeing. When we connected for the final recording session before we started, he took the time to check in on me and make sure I was doing okay. JD is a good man, I feel very fortunate to have met him and I’m proud to call him a friend. As we wrapped up, I asked him for his advice to anyone listening and he came through.
JD McCabe: The advice that I would give to somebody would be, first of all, don’t put an age on when you need to get married. The clock is not ticking, if you don’t feel it if you don’t have somebody that supports what you want to do and where you want to go and I get it’s a two-way street, but somebody’s got to support you, somebody’s got to believe in you and you’ve got to make each other. If you’re not making each other better, you can’t find somebody that lifts your game or raises you then you’re with the wrong person, if you’re with somebody that’s constantly taking or you’re giving more, you’re probably with the wrong person. So as I’ve re-entered into this again, I sat down and made a list of must-haves and deal-breakers, it was fairly an extensive list and it wasn’t nitpicky but a must-haves of what I want and, of course, my must-haves at this point is pretty simple. So sit out, make a list of must-haves, and make a list of deal-breakers.
Tom Milligan: Ladies and gentlemen that was a crazy story and remember we just scratched the surface to get the full story, including the letters Erin wrote, some of the evidence from the trial, and some of the expert testimony. Be sure to get a copy of his book, The Third Gift: My Dance with the Devil (and Her Mother) available anywhere books are sold.
JD McCabe: Folks can find me on Facebook at the third gift, on the Instagram same location, on TikTok; the infamous TikTok at the third gift. My website is thirdgift.com because the third gift was taken but thirdgift.com. Folks that are looking for the book it’s available on a hardcover, it’s available in ebook and audiobook, I narrated the audiobook. If they want signed copies of the book, they can get it through ballast books, B A L L A S T, and, of course, it’s available on all your online retailers, Amazon, Target, Barnes & Mobile, Walmart, et cetera.
Tom Milligan: I’ve put a link in the show notes and hope you’ll support my friend JD as he puts his life back together. Thank you all for your reviews this week, as I’ve said from the beginning, ratings and reviews are the currency of the podcast world. So if you haven’t done it yet, please take two seconds right now to give us five stars on whatever platform or app you’re using right now to listen to this show. Every review moves us up the charts and helps more people find us, so thank you. I also want to thank ourdivorce.com for their sponsorship of My Crazy Divorce, if you or someone you know, is thinking of divorce and don’t want it to become a future episode of our show, go to ourdivorce.com to learn more or to get started for free.
If you’ve already been through a crazy divorce and want to share your story with the world, please go to mycrazydivorce.com and click on the apply to be a guest button at the bottom of the page, I’d love to hear your story and finally a huge thank you to JD for taking so much time to share his story with us. That’s our show for today, see you next week, everyone.