John and I spent three beautiful days with his daughter Lillian this past weekend.  We decorated Easter eggs, made Springtime cookies, watched Frozen, played games and went to a town an hour away to see Cinderella (great movie by the way).

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I can’t describe the gratitude I have for this special little girl coming in to my life now. He obviously had a daughter with his ex-wife later in life so now at the time many of our peers are being introduced to grandkids, his life is focused on a 3 year old.  And I love it.


Not being blessed with children of my own and being in a sliver of a category of women who wanted kids and felt they should have had kids but didn’t, I feel so lucky to land in a relationship with the perfect man for me who has a very young child. I didn’t allow myself to feel all of this right away and the wonderful ramifications of this darling 3 year old are trickling in to my psyche little by little. The thought of travels with her, taking her to Disneyworld, doing fun girl things with her have all started to ignite a maternal fire in me that just keeps burning brighter. She calls me “Kaffy” and asks to sit on my lap and for me to take her to the bathroom and to read to her at night. It’s just ecstasy for a woman like me.


I woke up this morning without hearing her little voice outside our bedroom door and in that silence contemplated my own journey to land in this role. My stepmother Marj basically taught me every single thing not to do-not to be-in order to create a successful bond with Lillian.

I laid there wondering just when Marj started beating us-how early in our relationship she started to lose it like that. I know I tried to run away from home very early on after she came in to our lives. Within months if not weeks. I remember at around age 11 running down the road in desperation, destinationless with Marj finally chasing me down in our family station wagon. I remember her making me get back in the car and as soon as I did, reminding me I had nowhere to go, no one to run to. The mental abuse had started to ramp up by then. There was no attempt to understand me, just to control.  I had never, not for a second, thought about running from my home before she entered it. I thought about escape plans obsessively after that. I prayed she would leave and never come back.


Marj had no natural maternal instincts. She was manly in stature and attitude. She was 40 when she got together with my Dad and I believe never had a boyfriend before. Later, when Cindy and I became boy-crazy and would inquire about her dating life, she would dodge those questions and only speak about some gay male friends she once had. We thought she was being private. Now I believe she was being self conscious as she had no names or stories to fill in those answers with.

She had no pets nor close relationships to friends’ children-both of which I’ve naturally drawn myself to my entire adult life. She was childless and her primary child relationships were the institutionalized children she studied at the Children’s Research Center where she worked when she met our Dad.


I lay in bed this morning thinking although she physically abused me from age 11 to 19 when she last beat me, she did not pound her rage in to me. It just didn’t stick. I looked at the ceiling thinking about little Lillian and anyone laying a hand on her. How I only feel a tenderness for this child and a desire to enter her world slowly. How it’s natural for me to respect her mother and honor her role in Lillian’s life in a non-competitive way.


None of these attitudes were present in Marj. She blasted right in to our lives with Behavior Modification plans. When those failed, she erupted in to immediate and forceful violence beating us with whatever she could grab nearest–a kitchen utensil, hairbrush, hanger or her hands with fingers cemented so tightly together they became their own version of a steel spatula. My brother John recently recounted a story where he’d placed his clean socks on the kitchen table as he walked past intending to sit down and put them on. How Marj saw this and immediately blasted in to beating him around the face and head with that steely hand accompanied by her vicious and controlled deep loud hiss “do NOT put your dirty socks on the table, you do NOT put your dirty socks on the table”.


I asked him what his response to that was and he replied “I didn’t say anything, I just went up to my room”. None of us said much. We knew by then that our father would always take her side and/or look the other way and we had to just deal with it. We had somehow normalized this pattern of assault. Years later however I would speak to my father about this and he agreed that in this day and age she’d be arrested. She left marks on our bodies and psyches. Cindy and I often went to school covering extensive bruises.


Yet she didn’t leave any scars in me that influence my role as a stepmother beyond knowing exactly the rules of what not to do.

Honor Thy Mother is an important one. Marj’s insecurities forced us to only use terminology of “real mother” with her and “first mother” about our natural mother who had birthed us, raised us even while dying, thankfully instilled security and kindness in us at those tender ages. Marj once slapped me in the face in my bedroom repeatedly for not using the term “real mother” about her “in an appropriate tone”. I don’t think anyone would have believed this PhD level educated social worker who worked with disturbed kids had this in her. Trust me, it was the dirty secret lurking in the dark corners of our home almost immediately after she joined it.


(Marj the only person in this picture, our holiday photo that year, gripping an oar)

Marj was never a “real mother” in any realm other than the legal world after she adopted us. She was a guardian, an enforcer, at times a teacher, sometimes a friend, a caretaker and an abuser. She rarely spoke to us of our deceased mother. Habits we’d adopted after our mother died such as saying at the end of our dinnertime Grace “please keep Mommy happy in Heaven” quickly faded away. Our frequent visits to our mother’s grave became fewer and farther between and Marj awkwardly refused to get out of the car when we did go. When she spoke of our mother it was through thin tight lips and at times snide remarks would leak out. She was clearly threatened of our mother so we naturally avoided the discomfort it would bring all of us if we brought her up. I remember laying in my bed in my teen years reaching my hand toward the ceiling, sobbing, praying for my mother to grab it and reach in to me. Her presence had been nearly erased in our home by then. All the pictures were put away.

dottie(my mother, Dorothy June Schlosser Monkman)

This was Marj’s posture toward a dead woman who couldn’t speak for herself. Her posture also included beating that dead woman’s children.


I shudder to think of these things. I still deal with anger toward my father for allowing them to occur under his roof on his watch. She was wrong often, her entire orientation toward us was wrong and yet we knew he would side with her every time. This also was wrong. We knew early on we had no one to really trust in positions of power in our home. And we all suffered for it in adulthood.

Yet, miraculously I find myself although traumatized by those years, a person who didn’t go the way of repeating those awful patterns as can often be the case. Abused children can grow up to be abusive parents. Not with me though.


I know I will not speak ill of Lillian’s mother to her or in her presence as I consider her role in my life from a position of gratitude and respect. It is not in my makeup to compete with her. It is my inclination to follow and not lead. I have one goal which is to learn to bond with this tiny person and learn the family system I am entering as I tread softly following their rules. If I’m lucky and maintain a loving relationship with this child throughout her life and influence her in the ways only I can from my unique personality and perspective that will be enough.


John corrects me if my instincts aren’t correct in responding to Lillian (I tend, unsurprisingly, to over-permissiveness) and I learn from him. I am here to fit in, not impose my ignorance (I mean that in the literal sense of that word) to their way of raising their daughter.

Marj, if she’d been a different person and undamaged herself, would have and should have walked out of that car with us at our mother’s gravesite and held our hands helping us in reverence to grieve and hold the love of our mother in our hearts.

Instead she tried to beat it out of us.

And she died with none of us near her. And she died with accolades, outside of our family, for her noble role in taking us on in some Saint-like way. And no one knew she’d cut us out of her Will-her legally adopted children who she forced to call her “real mother”.She took every last dime she had of her own and what she’d gleaned from my father, all her valuables and willed them all to her sisters, nieces and nephews.

And my father held that secret for her.

She also went to her grave with no one knowing, or even being confronted herself truly, of the violence she inflicted on “her children”. Or the mental abuse that filled it’s place once she stopped beating Cindy and I.


There are times in life when the primary lesson someone of influence teaches you is how not to be.

So in this moment, ready to embark upon the sacred role of Stepmother to my fiance’s darling young daughter, I can muster a small bow Marj’s way. For that one critical lesson: showing me now it’s not done.


And another part of me raises two fists in the air, victorious, declaring “you didn’t get my innocence. My mother, my real mother was and is inside me all along and nothing, absolutely nothing you did took that from me”.

Or in the words of Cinderella in the movie we just saw “you are not my Mother, you will never be my mother”.

photo(32)(this is my real mother, now, then, forever)


Day 16 -evening


I woke up late, for me at 8:15 and immediately felt two things:  rested and leaner.  I’d been exploring my food intake and how bloated I was feeling and with the help of my dear fiance, realized I wasn’t eating enough protein.  So I shifted that yesterday, focusing on a more protein diet and spent the night peeing releasing fluid then fell in to a deep deep sleep.  Just for fun I decided to measure my waist as I’d done so last week because I’m getting married and having a dress made and was horrified at what I saw. 

I was totally psyched to see a THREE inch loss on my waist.  How crazy is that?  I’m sticking with protein now for the most part.  Wow.

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I went outside in to the beautiful grey drizzly day and decided to do a little photo treasure hunt on my garden patio.  In all that greyness, the bright life really stood out shining and posing for my camera.  I even found a little heart puddle in front of my door which is what started the whole thing.


I then sat down to write.  I did a chapter this morning on the theme of my stepmother Marj and something that happened with her, something really blow-your-mind disastrous, after my Grandma’s funeral.  If I hadn’t lived it, I don’t know I’d believe it, it’s that strange.  Here’s a snippet:

I decided to deal with Marj directly, woman to woman, about the ring before I headed back to Arizona the next day.  I decided to leave my Dad out of it and just approach her as an adult with rationality.
I went in to her bedroom and sat down and said “I need to talk to you about something that isn’t going to be easy for either of us”.  I contemplated just grabbing that ring off her hand or from her dresser and running away with it.  Part of me in hindsight wishes I’d done just that.  I did look for it as I sat in the recliner in the bedroom but couldn’t see it.
“Yes” she said while busying herself with putting things away in drawers. 
“We both know that that ring was supposed to go to Cindy.  And since she’s not alive to inherit it, I think we also both know that that ring should go to me.  It was my mother’s engagement ring.  It holds no sentimental value to you and you don’t even plan on keeping it as a ring.  It holds extreme sentimental value to me as you know and I think I should have it.  Everyone knows you had a lifetime of conflict with my Grandma and she would be rolling over in her grave thinking you ended up with that ring.  We both know this.  I think you should do the right thing and not accept it and tell Dad that that ring should go to me as it should”.  To me, this was the easiest approach but Marj never made anything easy for any of us kids.

True to form, she, the innocent bystander in any kinds of dealings where she’d orchestrated the entire thing passive aggressively behind the scenes replied “Well you’ll have to ask ya fahthah about that.  He really wanted me to have it and yes I will make it in to a necklace so I can wear it.  It’s important to him that I have it”.

Yes you have to read the book to find out what happened with my mother’s engagement ring that she intended to dismantle and make in to a necklace for herself.  Trust me, it’s a story worth reading.


I made my smoothie then fell  hard in to the Jodi Arias trial on twitter.  My favorite witness Dr. Janeen Demarte was on the stand and I needed to see what was going on/participate.  It was very satisfying to watch her kick Jodi Arias ass all over the courtroom while taking her unconscionable defense team with her.  There will be more of her tomorrow and I intend to tune in.  It was time for the tide to turn there and turn it has.

I crashed hard for at least two hours after watching the trial.  Woke up at 4:30, took a shower and knew what I needed to write about next.  I jumped back on my bed and another chapter flew out, also about Marj but more about me and the anxiety problems I recovered from.  Here is a snippet from that chapter:

I drove myself home finally arriving at 3am, beaten and destroyed by this demon called Anxiety that had plagued me for so long.  I left a message with someone at the Florida party house for my father saying I’d had a bad reaction to some kind of medication on the plane and had to fly back home.  It was such a flimsy false explanation but I just couldn’t say the words:  that the panic had won once again.  It was more than I could face.
I fell asleep for a few hours and phoned my therapist early the next morning.  I could barely speak I was so consumed with sobs.  She insisted I come to her home office that afternoon.  I was truly in a moment of this is the last straw and she could hear it.
I spent that hour curled and unintelligible through my deep tears and she literally put me to bed in her guest room for a few hours.  She said she was afraid for me to drive home.  You see when a truly strong person like me crumbles like that, it will get anyone’s attention.  I had no more defenses.  I just knew I couldn’t live like that anymore.
I made one decision that weekend alone steeped in my grief and disappointment as my family partied in Florida.  That was to stop trying to get on planes.  I grounded myself indefinitely.  I decided to stop putting myself through that torture and to stay put or drive if I wanted to go somewhere.

It wasn’t easy to relive that but it’s an important part of my personal story.  And in case you hadn’t noticed, I get on planes whenever I want now.  🙂

I went and reviewed and realized I have 20 chapters now.  Maybe not complete but I have 20 chapters.  In just 15 days of writing.  20 chapters.  And I’ve also been doing tons of reading and research wading through very difficult material.  I’m feeling proud of myself tonite.


On that note….sweet dreams all….thanks for following along, as always 🙂

Day 14 – morning


I’ll just say it.  It is very satisfying to kick someone’s ass, who deserves it, in your book.

Let me put this a more genteel way.  It’s very satisfying to expose the truth about someone who got away with a whole lot of damaging behavior in your past, through your book.

Or in another way, it is very satisfying to be a participant in karma in action.

Or another way yet, it just feels damn good to tell the truth.


Here are some excerpts from this morning’s writing.

She’d never had a close relationship with my Grandma.  In fact, it had been one filled with turbulence for three decades and no real love.  Marj hadn’t prepared her own tribute to read, nor would anyone have expected that of her.  We knew the deal between them very very well.  It was odd that she would volunteer to read this for my brother and that it wasn’t shuttled to me, a sibling; a grandchild.

Then later:

I looked out at the grievers assembled and caught a striking view of Marj in the second row, next to my father, arms crossed tightly, right leg over left and that toe sharply chopping the air in front of her as she fixated on it with narrow dark eyes.  Her anger was always so palpable to me.  And still, I was not about to allow that bitch to mark this ceremony as I delivered John’s redacted speech, written by her and with other nefarious, some might say downright evil intentions. 

But we weren’t finished with this plan of hers.  Not by a longshot.  There was another ceremony coming and she was not about to let this go.   I may have won this battle but the War was far from over.


It’s a gorgeous blustery day here in Edmonds and I woke up rested and ready to rumble.  Much like those football players are feeling I imagine.

And now I’m goin back in.

Day 5 – morning

Again I woke up at 3am-ish and decided to do some meditating and pull a card from my Angelic Messenger Deck.  A great thing about a road trip is you can just throw things in that you may or may not want and in this case I’ve really been using those cards as part of my support system.


I pulled the card Encouragement.  These are some of the words that go with it:

You have drawn this card to reinforce your belief in yourself and your ability to change and heal your life.  You may feel as if the old fears and obsessions are gaining strength again because your inner assurance and self-confidence might be shaken by some recent event.

This is a time when you may need to face the transforming of your old patterns and do so by yourself, since friends may be withdrawn in to their own concerns.  You are being guided to understand that you can do whatever is required to heal because you have invoked Divine Love to help you begin a new life.  You are ready for improved physical health, for relationships with people who are themselves healthier and more capable of sustaining a relationship with you, and for the means to value and be of service to yourself.

I wrote another chapter this morning and here is a snippet…how fitting I was thinking about the end of the abusive years with my stepmother and wrote about that in line with the choosing of that card.

From this morning’s writing session:

The pages were not only voluminous in number but bloated with words.  She would write front and back, on every line of the yield-sign yellow lined paper.  Then she would  go back and add things in to the margins with arrows and long trails. 

It was some kind of manic stream of consciousness attempting to give her analysis on the family conflicts, you know, from kind of a professional perspective.  She would dig back in to the family tree, discussing vulnerabilities and conflicts she’d been able to cull from other family members about our Grandmothers, our mother, anything she could find to support her various hypotheses.  The constant theme was basically how fucked up we all were and where it all came from. 
There was dissertation about how people got along, didn’t get along, who did what, who said what digging often way back to things we’d gone through as children and, in our vulnerability, had shared with her.  Cindy had it right when she said she would use those things against us some day and this is how she did it.  Stockpiling grievances and insecurities and weakness to bring up to the present to  funnel in to one predictable goal:  get herself off the hook for any part she ever played in any conflict. 

She was the classic abuser playing victim.  She never included any of her own involvement beyond the occasional generic comment like  “I know I’ve made mistakes but….”.
Cindy once confronted her on that blasting back “yeah you say that, then name one, what is one mistake that you made?”.  Marj went silent but finally was able, after Cindy’s eldest child insistence held her feet to the fire, to serve back “One mistake was, I let you children get to me”.

Speaking of health, off to make my morning smoothie then a little more research then to the Korean spa to soak in heat and mugwort water.  My TGIF after a long week. 🙂


Day 3 – boxes


After waking up again at 3am and writing for two hours then crashing, I decided today was the day to begin to dig in to the two large boxes still residing in my car from the drive.  One contains folders of interviews and reports–police, autopsy, witness interviews.  A few photos and some VHS tapes are also in there.


I haven’t gone through the whole box but knew where I wanted to start.  My police interview–the first one I gave in person–the one I was flown back to AZ for just one day to complete.  I’d forgotten that I literally flew in and back the very same day.   The Apelts had not yet been arrested and I didn’t feel safe there.  The interview was conducted on 12/29, just 5 days after Cindy was found and 2 days before we buried her.  The Apelts were definitely still on the loose as they attended the funeral.  I don’t know if they knew I had come to town for this or not.wpid-img-20150121-wa0052.jpeg

I designated this unused chair as the place I would read the hard things

It was extremely intense to go back and revisit my own words, remembering myself during this time. I was still measured and focused though and shared many many things with the Detectives.  I’ve shared before that Det. Ron Davis apologized to me after the first verdict came in for his behavior toward me in this interview.  I was confused at the time as didn’t pick up on anything odd but his explanation was that I was being treated like a suspect.  In reading the report, I can see exactly what he meant–his demeanor was brusque and sort of untrusting.  He had been translating German for the Apelts so I think naturally had formed some kind of affinity for them.  That faded quickly within the following days.


I also read through my testimony in both trials which was much more measured and controlled.  The police interview was more indicative of my state at the time–still in shock and desperate to help and clarify things only I would know.  Things Cindy shared with me in confidence.


these photos were part of evidence-he was plotting her murder at every step, including here-she was wearing this sweater when she was killed

I’d like to share verbatim one passage from the interview when I was being asked about Cindy and Michael’s quick and secret elopement to Las Vegas- the entire motive for murdering her –marriage + life insurance.

GF (George Felger one of the lead detectives):  What, what was that?

KM (me):  Which was that she, he had told her that either she married him or he was going back to Germany and she said that she would marry him then, because she didn’t want him to go back to Germany.  What she told me was, she said, she said, I, I told him I wasn’t ready for marriage, he pressured me in to marriage, I didn’t, I told him I wasn’t ready, and he said if I didn’t marry him he was gonna go back to Germany and I’d never see him again, so I married him.  That was when she, we had this long talk later and she explained the reason for marrying Michael, and that it was a real kind of quick decision  and, and that, you know, it was done kind of like, well that’s the only way that I can stay together with him and I said, well did he went to stay in the country, I said, is the reason why Michael wants to be here is because he loves the United States and he wants to stay here and she said, no, the reason he wants to be here is because he wants to be with me.  You know that was like the only reason he wanted to stay was to be with her and it wasn’t like, it didn’t really have anything to do with this great affection for the States, in fact he had talked to her about their moving back to Germany and living in Germany.  And she said, well, you know, I need to let you know that, but I might be moving to Germany and I might end up living there, you know.  That was also mentioned, so you know, for whatever that’s worth.

GF:  Were you there when they got married?

KM:  No, they went to Las Vegas and I didn’t even know she went to Las Vegas.  Which was very unusual, I mean, I knew everywhere my sister ever went.  I mean for years, I’ve known that and I was very upset, I was upset when I found out they got married but i was real upset at the thought that she had gone out of town and not told me, that was totally, I mean, we al, we were that close that we told each other wherever we go out of town,  I mean, we just go out of town to a weekend to Sedona and we’d let each other know that, you know.  And the fact that she had just gone to Vegas period and not told me was such a shock for me, I mean that was as much a shock as it was that she’d gotten married.

I also dove in to Cindy’s journal a bit and was left with one predominant thought about the here and now. That it is an absolute miracle that I’ve been able to trust a man in my life at all, much less to the level of getting married again as I am now.  I read her insecurities and they are mine I’ve had my entire life, compounded by this evil act which stole her from me based on a blind spot , a serious life threatening blind spot.  She spoke of hiding her sadness and self esteem issues, which I also relate to.  Everything goes right back to the loss and abuse we suffered.  She never got to resolve it and was a sitting duck for  sociopaths like these.


It’s so very sad.

Yet at the same time I’m so grateful that I was given a chance to transcend, to live, to thrive.  It’s exactly what she would want for me.


 Sunrise view from my patio

Day 2 – 3am


The second day in a row I’ve awakened at 3am and started writing.  An interesting little pattern.  A very long piece emerged this morning about abuse.

Here is a snippet:

My father, determined to avoid conflict at all costs, ignored my hysteria and chose to believe her when she said “I said nothing of the kind” in her slow southern drawl.  I was sent to my room in punishment and that was that.  It’s likely my problems with claustrophobia and anxiety began that very day.  We were trapped and we knew it.  No one was coming to the rescue and this was our life now.

As we went on to pretend to the world that we were ok, everything was fine, we were normal.

Later, once it gets light, I’ll be retrieving the trial/investigation materials from my car and begin diving in to those.  Please send a good thought my way as that will not be easy.  But I’m ready.