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Anne in Tanglewood With DSK: Preparing a Man for Prison

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STRAUSS KAHN
AP

If you've never had your man indicted for a major crime, you may not understand what Anne Sinclair is doing by accompanying her husband to a summer symphony as he awaits trial.

But I do. If it's anything like what the photo of them at Tanglewood made me remember, she his filling his picnic basket for a long winter ahead.

I don't know how Anne found out that Dominique Strauss-Kahn had been taken into custody. I was asleep alone in my own house when the phone rang early one morning.

After my sleepy hello, and validating my name and that I indeed knew my boyfriend of four years, I heard a Virginia police sergeant say, "Ma'am, have you seen today's Washington Post?"

"No sir, not yet. It's still out in my driveway."

"Well when you do, you will see that your boyfriend has been indicted on three counts of fraud. Do you know anything about these activities? Has he ever asked you for money in the state of Virginia?"

I was not sure if this was a nightmare or an IQ test. But either way, why would I be dumb enough to help the authorities build a case against the man I loved, especially before I even knew what was going on?

"No sir, he never did that," which was true. "Sir, would you mind if I run down and get the paper then call you back?"

"No problem ma'am, here's my number...."

And there it was, bigger than life in the Washington Post. Three counts that over the course of the next nine months of investigation grew to 15 counts and the tragic tune 1.3 million dollars embezzled from his clients.

A week later I was quoted in the Post saying, "He's a good man," only a slight variation of Anne telling the media, "I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband," while the back of our minds we are really thinking, "Oh God don't tell me this is what he's really been doing all along?"

Once the dust settles, the next big question in your mind is what to do once he is formally charged. How to get through the time while investigators terrorize your life and lawyers 'exhaust all possibilities' as he awaits trial.

You listen to him tell you that everything will be alright. That he could skip bail and leave the country but that he wants to stay to prove his innocence and make this up to you and that at most it will only be an 18 month sentence anyway. As you listen, you ask yourself what it would be to challenge the denial he has cocooned himself into -- merciful or cruel? Then you just reach for his hand, nod your head, and smile softly.

In the days before scabs form to close your open wounds and calm the throbbing, you think constantly about asking him, "How could you do this... or anything that would even make them think you did this?" But then you visualize the prosecuting attorney grilling him in the courtroom and ask yourself what purpose preempting that humiliation will serve.

"Don't you just want to kill him?," your well-meaning friends keep asking you, and the answer is no. You already know that the government and alleged victims are out for blood. If his blood is going to end up on anyone's hands, do you want it to be yours? You feel yourself walking through the hours in a state of shock. Disoriented from the ground beneath you and certainly any heaven above. Yet if you know anything anymore, you know that paradoxical as it may seem, by the very act of staying with him you are differentiating yourself from him, and reaffirming who you are. Someone who is still sane enough and still has enough self-control that she will not let her loved one's weakness drive her to the delusion of taking justice into her own hands or ever end up with anyone's blood on them, especially his.

You feel betrayed and terrified about your own future. With him, without him... no matter, how will you ever recover from this? Naturally you want to tell him how you feel and part of you wants to hurt him like he has hurt you. But then you think about the time he is going to serve in prison, knowing very well that it could be 18 years, not 18 months. And the raging passion you feel to punish him forges itself unquestionably into a platinum passion to protect him.

You think about leaving him now and getting on with your life. But you know that all too soon, you will have years without him to somehow get on with your life, and that for a long time, if not forever, you will miss him. You watch him putting on his best suit to take you out to dinner. You see him smile at the maître d' with the same charismatic confidence as ever and the maître d' escorting you to the best table as always. He eats well, he smiles, and as always tells you how beautiful you look tonight. But through the veneer you see him aging by the hour. You see him tearing up as he pretends to watch TV. His muscles begin to atrophy from the mental weight that keeps him sitting for hours on end.

What was unclear to you before as you watched your magnetic man move through life so majestically is that what he has been all along is a narcissist. Always needing one more deal, one more property... in DSK's case, one more female conquest... to recharge him because like any narcissist, he is simply a battery that can't hold a charge... no matter what he has accomplished or how much he loves his partner or how lovely, loyal, intelligent, and forever recharging she has tried to be. Nothing can explain the incredible, ridiculously unnecessary risk he took to get the last fix, the one that finally got the police involved except that a hallmark of addiction is losing sight of how much is actually being put at risk to get a fix.

As you watch his fight to maintain face as the world judges him, you realize that narcissism is as potentially toxic as every other addiction. That your partner may not be a psychopath, but he's definitely sick and that this cancerous disease is weakening him day by day. And who leaves a sick man when the end is already in sight?

He drinks more champagne than ever, spending your money like water. You check your accounts; financial and emotional. You see the drain, but you know that you still have a big balance and that you will have a lifetime to replenish whatever you are spending now. So you join him in raising your glass because you know that more alcohol is the only thing that will let him get a few hours of sleep each night.

What you have decided to do, what Anne may well be doing at Tanglewood with Dominique, is to spend every day from here until the dreaded day comes when they may take him away, filling a picnic basket for him to take to prison with him. During the nine months between indictment and the click of the handcuffs that started the clock on a 15-year, no-parole Virginia sentence, I took my boyfriend to the beach, on ferry rides, to dinners, concerts, for picnics, the mountains, waterfalls, birthday parties.

At the close of each day bringing us closer to the trial, I reviewed the memory I had created for him, what I had put into the basket that day. I visualized him in his cell, everyday, one day at a time, taking out one memory and reliving it to get through that day. The day at the shore. The risotto at his favorite restaurant... for Dominique, the concerts at Tanglewood.

No one knows what will happen at DSK's trial. Maybe there will not even be a trial as I am sure he hopes. Maybe if there is a trial, there will be no jail time as I imagine he is praying. And maybe like my man, the man who was my man, he will serve almost 15 years, and just months before he is to be released, although he has spent his whole sentence fighting to get mentally healthy and stay physically healthy, he will suffer a massive stroke and leave prison in a wheelchair. His finite prison sentence extended into a life sentence of paralysis and inability to speak. Utterly un-rehabilitatable. Left only with whatever women like Anne and I put into the basket for the men we've loved, with no regrets.