The following is a transcript of the My Crazy Divorce podcast
Guest Name: Jenny Ferguson
Release date: 12.9.2021
Tom Milligan: This week, all hell breaks loose when two former Mormon missionaries get married. But one of them just isn’t into being a Mormon and the other, just has it in for their spouse. But she still wants to make it work. Welcome to My crazy divorce.
Hi everyone and welcome to another crazy story here on My crazy divorce. I’m your host Tom Milligan. I’ve got to tell you guys, this story has been so much fun for me for so many reasons. First, our guest Jenny grew up in Utah, my home state, just an hour south of my hometown of Bountiful, Utah.
Since our story takes place in Utah, Mormonism will play a huge role in today’s story. Full disclosure. I spent the first 45 years of my life as an active Mormon. I served a Mormon mission in Southern California. While I’m no longer an active member of the church, I have a lot of great memories and I have a lot of respect for the foundation it laid for my life, as well as for the charity work they do around the world.
Jenny and I will do our best to explain the culture, the doctrine, and terms you’ll hear to make sure you understand what we’re talking about. We’ll try to do it in a respectful way. For those not familiar with the church. Mormon is a nickname associated with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is also abbreviated sometimes as the Latter Day Saint church or LDS church, you’ll hear all three terms used today.
So just know they mean the exact same thing. Now, if you’re a member of the LDS church and are offended by anything either one of us say about the church, just know it’s not intentional. So calm down. All right. Jenny grew up in Alpine, Utah, a town of about 10,000 people, about 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Alpine is known for three things:
The first is wealth. The average household income and Alpine is over $167,000. About two and a half times the national average of about $67,000. Second, are the big, expensive houses that those big salaries can afford. The average home in Alpine goes for about 570,000 bucks compared to the national average of about 374,000. Finally, Alpine is REALLY Mormon, like 94% Mormon. Here’s Jenny describing Alpine.
Jenny Ferguson: I grew up in Alpine. Now to explain to you what Alpine is, I hate saying that I’m from Alpine. I truly believe that the Mormon church is like 99% supported by the Alpine members. So when you talk about my environment as far as religion is concerned, it was very to the T. We had 99.9% activity in the ward. Our ward was literally two streets and you know, my high school was even worse. Lone Peak is known for high rates of suicide, just because of all the pressure that is put on the children. It’s very high wealthy families in these neighborhoods. I hate saying that, but that’s just the truth.
Tom Milligan: Now, I can’t really comment on the suicide rate, but I do know antidepressant use in Utah is the highest in the nation, at nearly twice the national average. So, there are definitely some underlying issues that need to be addressed. In case you’re confused, a ward is a local LDS congregation of between 300 and 600 members.
Unlike most churches, your ward or congregation is assigned to you based on your location. So, your Mormon neighbors all go to the same church at the same time.
I cannot wait to get to our story, but first I need to remind you that this podcast is not legal advice or therapy. How do I know that? I know that because I’m not an attorney or a therapist, so I don’t offer either service. Also, if you’re divorced and have a great story, please go to My crazy divorce.com and click on the apply to be a guest button at the bottom of the page.
We’re always looking for great stories. Finally, I can’t thank you guys enough for the ratings and reviews you’ve given, as I always say, ratings and reviews are the lifeblood of any podcast. So, thank you to those of you that have rated us already. To the rest of you, please just pause the show right now and take two seconds to just give us five stars.
It really does mean a lot. Now that that’s out of the way we can get into the story. Jenny’s parents had five children. But when Jenny’s aunt and uncle died, quite suddenly, her parents adopted their three children bringing their total to eight. Unfortunately, not everyone in the extended family agreed with the adoption.
So there was a year long custody battle in the courts, which Jenny says helped her understand her own custody battle later on. I think it says a lot about Jenny’s parents, that they were willing, not only to take on three more children, but were also willing to fight their own family in court to protect those children. So let’s hear about Jenny’s early life.
Jenny Ferguson: I was very happy. I loved my parents. I loved my brothers and sisters and I did everything I could to be a good Mormon girl.
Tom Milligan: While it’s not required, part of being “a good Mormon girl” as Jenny puts it sometimes includes going on a mission.
Jenny Ferguson: I served a Latter Day Saint mission in Oregon, and I loved every moment of it.
Tom Milligan: No matter our upbringing. Divorce has a way of changing our beliefs or our relationship with God. Sometimes divorce moves people away from God and religion. While others gravitate closer.
Jenny Ferguson: My relationship with God has changed quite a bit, in my opinion, gotten better. On the standards of the Mormon culture, maybe it may look different.
Tom Milligan: Despite becoming closer to God. She doesn’t go to church every week as she was taught to do from birth.
Jenny Ferguson: I call myself a half-ass Mormon.
Tom Milligan: I love that! Jenny comes from a long line of Mormons, but her ex – we’re going to call him Darryl for this show – doesn’t have that same historical background. In fact, Darryl’s dad joined the LDS church as an adult.
Jenny Ferguson: He’s a convert to the church though. So, I mean, he’s a first-generation in his line of family work. So, you can imagine how important religion was to him and far as making sure that his children were doing the outwardly appearance to the neighborhood and the high callings that he served in.
Tom Milligan: For those not familiar, the LDS church has a lay ministry. That means it’s run by its members rather than a paid pastor or a preacher. When a member is asked to take on a role in the church it’s referred to as a calling. Because they believe the request is made by inspiration and therefore that they’ve been called by God to fill that role. So, according to Jenny, Darryl’s dad had some pretty important callings in the church. Darryl’s childhood seemed very similar to Jenny’s, from the outside at least.
Jenny Ferguson: Very similar background as far as mine’s concerned, there was only three children only. He was the middle. His father was in a lot of church high callings, gone a lot, not around in his life a lot. Also worked in a very high stress job. I asked him if he loves his childhood, he would say, yes, he’s close to his family. So, the biggest hiccup, I think, has been all the medications that he took when he was younger. Cause a lot of issues that I think caused a lot of issues in my marriage.
Tom Milligan: Darryl’s family says those medications were all for ADHD, but we’ll never know for sure. We’ll talk a bit later about the pressure put on men in the LDS faith, but I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not for the faint of heart. I don’t know which callings Darryl’s dad had, but in my own life as an LDS man, there were times that I would work my 50 hours at my day job and then put in another 20 or 30 hours doing church work in the evenings and on weekends. I don’t know of any other religion that touches so much of its members lives. In fact, despite living hundreds of miles apart, it’s the church that brought these two together.
Jenny Ferguson: It ties all into religion. We served in the same mission.
Tom Milligan: Darryl and Jenny didn’t connect when they were missionaries. But after his mission was over, Darryl took some college courses in Utah. And to pay for college, he got a part-time job.
Jenny Ferguson: So, I didn’t really know him on the mission, but then when we came home, we taught as teachers in the Missionary Training Center where you teach missionaries how to become missionaries. So, that’s really where we met when we were working as teachers in the MTC.
Tom Milligan: Oh, the memories. I spent two months at the MTC back in 1987. But it wasn’t just the fact that they work together. You see, when you serve a mission, you’re a 19 or 20 year old kid who’s probably away from home for the first time so every mission has a Mission President who kind of becomes your father figure. Also his wife is there who’s often referred to as your mission mom, because of the role she takes on with the missionaries.
Well, Jenny’s mission mom worked behind the scenes to get Jenny and Darryl to date after their missions were over. She thought they were just perfect for each other. So with all the planets aligned, Darryl and Jenny started dating.
Jenny Ferguson: Courting was quite small, about three months, not very lengthy. I wanted it to be longer, but I obviously looking in hindsight was pushed into a lot of things I didn’t want to do.
Tom Milligan: Three months is not long enough, period. I don’t care who you are, how old you are or how in love you think you are.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember very specifically thinking I don’t really like this guy and there’s a lot of red flags. I remember talking to my friends about it and I did end up breaking up with him.
Tom Milligan: Good. Jenny saw the red flags and actually broke it off with Darryl. Now, if only that were the end of our story.
Jenny Ferguson: But then my guilt, I felt so guilty by making him feel so bad because my codependency issues that I had. I ended up getting back together with him because I thought what’s wrong with him, there must be something wrong with me. Cause there’s nothing wrong with him.
Tom Milligan: Why do we gaslight ourselves? Jenny knew it wasn’t right. But she convinced herself that there was something wrong with her. Why?
Jenny Ferguson: I mean, I look back and I think I just wanted to continue the Mormon checkbox. Get married in the temple, have the white picket fence. So, when you talk about engagement, it wasn’t anything that I remember emotion wise, it’s just all, that was what I was supposed to do.
Tom Milligan: So romantic, right? Well, maybe he grew on her.
Jenny Ferguson: Went and looked for rings waited for the ring to come in. He got it sooner than it was supposed to come in. So, he surprised me by writing a song. I mean, I still have pictures of it, you know, and things like that. Keep them for my son. Proposed. I mean, it was just one of those things where it’s like, well, I guess we might as well get married. You know, we both have the same morals, same standards, want the same things.
Tom Milligan: We have the same morals and want the same thing so we’re obviously meant to be together? Right. Dammit, Jenny. Why?
Jenny Ferguson: I’m thinking, yay. I finally made it to what young women in my church taught me that I should be doing. I don’t have to be one of those single women for the rest of my life. Yay. I could have babies, you know, that’s what I’m thinking. Yay. I can finally get the house and the dream and you know, the whole nine yards when it comes to making my life picture perfect.
Tom Milligan: So Jenny has been told her entire life that this is what her role is. Wife and mother. Period.
Jenny Ferguson: I’m thinking, yay. I don’t have to be alone.
Tom Milligan: So for whatever reasons, good or bad, Jenny and Darryl are engaged, but remember they’ve only known each other for three months. There’s still a lot they don’t know about each other.
Jenny Ferguson: We were driving on the freeway and we’re talking finances. Now, I’m someone who’s very into my finances. I want to excel in life and move forward. I remember him telling me he had nothing in his bank account.
Tom Milligan: So he’s broke. Not a huge deal, right? A lot of young married couples start out broke. In fact, I think that’s almost better since it forces them to work together to resolve problems. That’s not how Jenny saw it.
Jenny Ferguson: But I was already engaged to this guy. So he moved to Utah, had a part-time job. Wasn’t going to school. I thought, what the hell is this kid doing with his life? And why am I engaged to him?
Tom Milligan: Good questions. Don’t you just love how she can laugh about it now? So, Darryl stopped going to school, is about to get married and only has a part-time job. I’d questioned that too. Jenny was worried.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember thinking now maybe things will change.
Tom Milligan: The old I’m sure it will be okay once we’re married routine, does that ever actually work? I doubt it, but Jenny sweeps that red flag under the rug and prepares for her temple sealing ceremony. It’s called a sealing because you’re being sealed to your spouse. Something Mormons believe can only happen in LDS temples.
Jenny Ferguson: You have to be worthy in order to get married in the Mormon temple. So, you have to be living certain standards. Especially in your courtship, you’re not able to have intercourse. You’re not able to have heavy petting. I don’t know what else you would call it. Just anything that’s anything sexual, showing body parts before you get married. So, when you get married in the temple, they say it’s for time and all eternity. So, you know, you’re married civilly they say till death, do you part. But in the temple, they say time and all eternity. You make covenant promises with your partner and you include God in your marriage.
Tom Milligan: Well, that adds a whole new wrinkle to this. Remember, Jenny doesn’t really like Darryl a whole lot. I’m sure she doesn’t actively dislike him. But from what I’ve seen, love wasn’t even on the table. But despite that, she’s preparing to enter into a very sacred relationship with Darryl – and with God – that is expected to last for time and eternity, that’s deep. And it’s scary.
So, the big day comes. Both families are in the sealing room of the Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah, to witness the sealing of Darryl and Jenny for time and eternity. To be clear, sealing rooms usually hold 20 or 30 people max and the sealing ceremony is actually fairly short and usually quite somber.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember, cause in the temple, there’s an altar. So, you kneel down at the altar and you face each other. I remember thinking, what the hell am I doing? I cannot believe I’m marrying this person.
Tom Milligan: Oh no, she knows it’s not right. But the whole family is there. It’s just too late to back out. So, now they’re sealed, I guess it’s time to celebrate Mormon style.
Jenny Ferguson: Obviously, we don’t have as many fun dancing and drinking parties as a lot of people because we don’t drink. But we know we have the reception hall and the luncheon. So, lots of people coming in with guests. I loved it. I had dreamed about it my entire life. So, here was it a gorgeous gown and looking good and, you know, getting to express to everybody, they finally had made it through the threshold of marriage and, you know, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Tom Milligan: That my friends is a Mormon wedding day. In case you’re not familiar. The reason Jenny mentioned alcohol is that members of the LDS faith are forbidden from drinking alcohol as one requirement of being temple worthy. So, a Mormon wedding is very different from a non-Mormon wedding. Mormons are also forbidden from drinking coffee or tea, or from using tobacco in any form.
Jenny Ferguson: I didn’t know that he was doing things like, and some people may not think this is bad, but in the Mormon culture, it is bad. E-cigarettes – and he was hiding it from me. I remember that was, we’d been married for about six months.
Tom Milligan: Like she said; in most cultures and religions, e-cigarettes are no big deal, but in the LDS church, it’s a big deal. Not cool at all Darryl. But it’s not just the fact that he’s using tobacco products.
Jenny Ferguson: But how am I going to have kids with this guy, if he’s lying to me and he’s going behind my back, spending things on items, I don’t know.
Tom Milligan: It’s about trust and Darryl broke that trust with Jenny. Remember, God is the third member of this marriage. So he broke his commitment to God as well. Before you go commenting on how weird Mormons are, remember two things: first, they already know it. They refer to themselves as “a peculiar people” so they get it. You don’t need to remind them. Second, Mormons are no more or less weird than any other religion. Anyway, one thing Mormons are encouraged to do is keep a personal history by writing in their journal. Apparently, Jenny took that very seriously.
Jenny Ferguson: But I made him write a document in my journal saying, you know, I’ll never do these things. I am so sorry. I’m going to try to be a worthy priesthood holder.
Tom Milligan: I’m not gonna lie. I’ve lived in Utah, most of my life and spent most of that life as an active member of the LDS church and Jenny having Darryl make her a promise in her journal is the single most Mormon thing I have ever heard. On a side note, e-cigarettes aren’t free. So, in addition to breaking her trust, he was spending their money.
She wasn’t happy about that, but they didn’t have time to argue about it.
Jenny Ferguson: I found out that I was pregnant and he also used my pregnancy against me. He used the priesthood against me by saying that there are consequences to my actions. That it’s my fault that I got pregnant.
Tom Milligan: Being pregnant is great news for some couples, but Darryl ruined it by using his priesthood. To help understand the priesthood, here’s an explanation directly from the church’s website: “To govern his church on Earth. He, God delegates a portion of his power and authority to worthy male members of the church. This delegated authority is called priesthood.” Now, one of the delegated powers is that of giving priesthood blessings.
So again, right from the church’s website: “lessings are given to provide direction and comfort as guided by the spirit. Worthy men who hold the priesthood may give blessings of comfort and counsel to their wives.” Basically, despite Darryl’s use of e-cigarettes, he somehow felt he was worthy to give Jenny a priesthood blessing, to give “comfort and counsel”, and Jenny’s faith in the priesthood authority was absolute.
Jenny Ferguson: I cannot believe that he used that against me. A priesthood blessing where they put the hands on your head and they bless you and he said those words. Now, just to your subscribers, a priesthood blessing, it’s supposed to be words from God. So, when someone uses it to abuse that power that they believe in, you know, I thought it was very awful.
Tom Milligan: Yeah. But unfortunately, Darryl’s not the first to abuse his priesthood authority and he certainly won’t be the last. Well, so here we are. Jenny’s eight months pregnant and Darryl, well, he rolls his ankle, maybe.
Jenny Ferguson: Looking back in hindsight, he faked the surgery, which he’s done multiple surgeries, where he fakes the surgeries. You’ll find a surgeon to perform the surgery. In this case, it was his ankle. He said he rolled his ankle and he had to have surgery on it. Well, you have surgery, you’re given pain pills. So, I was two weeks away from giving birth to our child and he was in a foot brace and could barely walk.
Tom Milligan: I wasn’t there so I can’t say whether he faked it or not, but at best his timing sure sucks. At worst, he’s a drug addict.
Jenny Ferguson: I learned that he also had a hard time having the attention on someone else as far as medical concerns are. So, I had a medical concern. I was pregnant at the time and that was empowering for him. So, he had to match that level. Okay.
Tom Milligan: He’s an attention whore.
Jenny Ferguson: So, my son was born and my son was two weeks old. He literally passes out with my son in his arms from an overdose.
Tom Milligan: So, he’s a drug addicted attention whore. That’s not good at all. Especially with a newborn.
Jenny Ferguson: What really happened in my marriage, I believe is when my child was born. The attention turned to my child. I was now to be a rearing mother and he didn’t like that. The attention was not on him anymore. In fact, there was a time that he said you are not to put the child first. You’re supposed to be putting me first, I’m your husband.
Tom Milligan: What a petulant Dick. But Jenny gives Darryl a lot more grace than I do.
Jenny Ferguson: As a Mormon. I do know the expectations that are put on a father figure are a lot greater than the average father. So, my expectations of him were a lot higher than I think that they should have been. So, the demand of you need to do this and you need to do this and use it. This needs to be involved in this. So you need to go work and then you need to make sure you’re home with the kids and playing with the kids and you make sure you groom the dog, you know, you can make sure you take the house and do all the household chores.
Tom Milligan: Whatever Darryl, yeah. Being a man is sometimes hard. Sometimes it’s thankless. But he really needs to grow up.
Jenny Ferguson: There had been an incident where he had pulled out a gun. My ex, Darryl pulled out a gun and wanted to kill himself in front of me. Now he had done this multiple times and tried to use it against me.
Tom Milligan: My heart, goes out to anyone with suicidal ideations. I’m really glad I’ve never had to deal with that. I’m totally not qualified to make this statement, but here it goes anyway. Darryl is and was full of shit and never had any intention of killing himself. He threatened suicide to control Jenny period, and it worked for awhile, but she really wanted to make the marriage work.
Jenny Ferguson: I was very involved with my husband. I wanted to go on dates with him. I wanted to hang out with him. I wanted to be with him. In fact, it was the exact opposite. He wanted to be alone because he was doing things behind my back that I didn’t know about. I don’t think he was ever cheating. I don’t have proof of it, but I do know that he would just go and get high in the basement and didn’t want me to be around.
Tom Milligan: That sounds terrible. So, Jenny’s working as a real estate agent and from the sound of it making decent money. Of course, Darryl’s spending it just as fast. So, her dreams of becoming a homeowner, aren’t getting any closer to reality.
Jenny Ferguson: My father ends up buying a house for us so that we can maybe buy the house from him. Because we couldn’t afford the house at the time.
Tom Milligan: Wow. What a dad. At this point, their son is two years old and Darryl’s doing a ton of Kratom, which is said to have mood lifting effects, offers pain relief, and is used as an aphrodisiac. People who use Kratom report increased energy, sociability, and alertness.
That all sounds great. But the reported health effects include sensitivity to sunburn, nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. So, there’s that.
Jenny Ferguson: You know, you think that if you just talk to someone that they’ll change. That if they love you, that they’ll change. I say, “Hey, let’s get into some counseling.” I remember saying to him, “I will never leave you over money spending habits. But we’ve got to work on it. We’ve got to figure it out.” He’s sitting there crying on the couch, you know, soaking it all in and getting the victimized mode.
Tom Milligan: Of course, he’s crying on the couch, playing the victim. No surprise there, but never say never.
Jenny Ferguson: So, we were going to support therapy. Mind you, he didn’t want to go. So, I remember sitting in therapy with him and this group therapy, and he didn’t want to say a darn thing the whole time we were there. We only went once and I never tried to reach out to people saying, I thought I can’t do this by myself.
Tom Milligan: Jenny’s ability to believe in and forgive her husband is being tested every day. I mean, that would take a toll on any marriage.
Jenny Ferguson: It got to the point where we could not be civil anymore. Our conversations became very toxic. We were yelling in front of the child and I felt trapped. The money was the issue. I didn’t have money to even pay for groceries anymore because he just kept spending all of it. Mind you, I was a real estate agent at the time, I was making money as well. We were trying to purchase new fences, new roof, new couches. We had money, but he was spending it so fast that I couldn’t buy groceries. I remember calling my mom and saying, I need money for groceries. I can’t survive this week.
Tom Milligan: Didn’t I just say, never say never.
Jenny Ferguson: I went to my parents and I said, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go back home. They said, well then why don’t you get away? I decided in that moment that I was going to go to St. George. It was about five hours away from my house and stay with my grandparents.
Tom Milligan: Good idea. A little space might do them both some good.
Jenny Ferguson: I wrote a letter to him saying if things don’t change, I don’t want to come back. I just need to go.
Tom Milligan: As I’ve said before, I wasn’t there and I haven’t verified any of this with Darryl. But based on Jenny’s side of the story, it seems like she’s being very open and fair with her communication and what needs to happen. Do you think Darryl sees it that way? Of course not.
Jenny Ferguson: He accused me of stealing his child. He went to his parents, his parents didn’t know anything was going on.
Tom Milligan: Both Darryl and Jenny are lucky to have such supportive and involved parents and both took advantage of their advice. Jenny’s parents convinced her to come home from St. George. But first Darryl promised that he wasn’t doing e-cigarettes, Kratom or anything else like it.
Jenny Ferguson: He said, I promise you, Jenny. So, I came back based on that, the day I got home, and I lived in Lehi, Lehi’s a very windy city. There was a little receipt sitting outside on the grass and he had been at his parent’s house for a couple of days. I opened up that receipt and lo and behold, he’d been buying nicotine gum. Now, in Mormon culture nicotine’s a big deal. I mean, I knew about e-cigarettes from years ago, but I didn’t know he was still doing them.
That opened up a whole new world to me, that little tiny little receipt. I thought, gosh, dang it. But I decided to go and meet with his parents anyway. I brought the receipt and I’d be on the phone with his dad. I said, look, you need to know he is lying. I have proof that he is lying and if he’s lying about this, I don’t know what else he’s lying about.
I thought, maybe he’ll listen to his parents. If he won’t listen to mine, I’ll never forget it. Sitting down at their kitchen table and they looked at me like I was stupid. That heaven forbid I called their son a liar.
Tom Milligan: Well, that’s a dead end. Of course, his parents are gonna defend their son. So, Darryl and Jenny decided to include their Bishop in the discussions.
Jenny Ferguson: I made sure I put my son into bed and my parents came over and it was a yelling, screaming fight. The Bishop’s just sitting there like, no, no, no.
Tom Milligan: An LDS Bishop is the local priesthood leader that presides over a ward. Remember he’s just a guy that accepted a calling. He probably has no training in marriage counseling, but as part of the LDS doctrine, he’s been given special authority over this ward.
So, members often involve him in this stuff. So, of course he’s just sitting there. What else could he do? Meanwhile, the others in the meeting, aren’t just sitting around.
Jenny Ferguson: I’m trying not to have a panic attack and my ex husband is just screaming at everybody. There’s a lot there right. But in the end, what happened is my parents said, this is my house, you’re to leave now and you’re not coming back. So, they made him pack all his bags. This was the third time I had kicked him out of the house. He told me that if I had kicked him out again, that it would cause a divorce.
Tom Milligan: Got to love how he worded that. If you kick me out, it will cause a divorce. So, whatever he did that led up to the kicking out is irrelevant in his statement.
Jenny Ferguson: I looked at it and I said, don’t be silly, Darryl. I grabbed his face and I said, just go work on you and I’ll work on me and we’ll come back and be better together. But we cannot function like this right now. The evil look that he gave me was like, you’re in for it. Punishment. Punishment was coming.
Tom Milligan: I just got chills. She has no idea what’s coming next, but she knows it’s not good.
Jenny Ferguson: So, he left and he was gone the whole week and he asked to see my son that weekend. So, he took my son, our son, whatever you want to call it. We’re not in legal stuff. So, I’m gonna say my son. So, he took my son for the weekend. He asked to have him for one more day because he wasn’t working on Monday.
Tom Milligan: Sounds reasonable. I hear so many single moms who wished their kids’ fathers would ask for extra time with them. So, I suspect Jenny was happy that he wanted to be an involved dad, even if they weren’t together. Jenny took advantage of the extra time on Monday to work on building her real estate business.
Jenny Ferguson: I come home and there’s a police officer at my house. I had not even eaten dinner. I was so hungry. Because I had been working out and trying to like eat clean and try to get my life back together, trying to gain control again, you know. The police officer handed me the papers and I said, what is this? I don’t know what this is. He says, well, I’ve just been told to give it you. I said, but it has my name and my husband’s name on it. We’re separated right now and he’s supposed to be bringing my son. He says, I don’t know, just read it.
Tom Milligan: I’m not a cop, but that really seems like he left some shit out.
Jenny Ferguson: They did many things wrong. They were supposed to escort me off the property. They were supposed to serve all the entire papers and they didn’t do their job.
Tom Milligan: That’s more like it, but because the police officer didn’t do it right. She had no way of knowing that shit was about to get very, very real.
Jenny Ferguson: He leaves. I’m left with a piece of paper. I call my husband and I say, I have a piece of paper in front of me. I don’t know what’s going on. He doesn’t answer his phone. So, I leave a voicemail. Then I call my parents and they say, oh no, you need to call your uncle Blake who’s an attorney. You need to talk to him now.
Tom Milligan: Oh, no, not uncle Blake.
Jenny Ferguson: What is going on? Where is my son?
Tom Milligan: Exactly. Where is her son? Jenny later pulled body cam footage and learned that while she’s panicking over her son, the officer that served Jenny drove two blocks to where Darryl was parked, waiting to get word that she’d been served.
Jenny Ferguson: You see the cam of him, of the cop walking up to him and he says, well, she called me, have you served the protection order? And he says, yeah, we served it and she called you? So, she violated the protection order because you know, that means that we’re going to have to arrest her. The look on his face was, well, I guess this is her doing, and to me, that look was this guy had no idea what he was doing. I’m pretty sure the attorney told him to file it, to get a leverage, to try to get the kid.
Tom Milligan: It’s all about control for Darryl. He first tried to use his priesthood authority, then his suicidal threats, and now he’s using their child to try to control her.
Jenny Ferguson: I honestly think he thought that we were actually going to stay married. If I had learned my lesson, that if I had learned my lesson and he knew that the divorce was coming from one, he said, this is going to cause a divorce that I would come cropping back to him and apologize. But now I’m being arrested. So, that look on his face is, oh gosh, my plan’s not working very well. Is it?
Tom Milligan: Well that backfired. Didn’t it Darryl? Jenny’s parents come over to do whatever they could and it’s such a shitty situation. They call uncle Blake who warns them, that Darryl isn’t playing around and that they need to take this very serious.
Jenny Ferguson: I start throwing pictures on the floor. Glass starts shattering everywhere.
Tom Milligan: I can’t even imagine that scene. She has to be terrified.
Jenny Ferguson: Two hours go by and again, another knock at the door by the time my brother-in-law’s there, my parents are there. We’re trying to figure out what to do. I honestly don’t remember a lot of it. So, I do remember the police officer being there saying you broke the protection order. You called your husband, you’re under arrest.
Tom Milligan: I seriously can’t even believe this. Jenny’s under arrest. She’s arrested for violating an order she didn’t even know existed. For leaving a voicemail.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember just feeling completely empty and defeated. I thought there’s nothing I can do. Here you go take me in my cuffs and let’s just do this. Because I have nothing. My son’s not here. My husband’s not here. I don’t know what’s going on. My mom is going hysterical. The cop says, if you do not calm down, I’m going to have to arrest you too. My dad was pissed. He was like, who the hell are you?
Tom Milligan: I’m with them. I’d be pissed too, about my daughter and my house. Remember Darryl just had her removed from a house Jenny’s dad owns. So, they carry her in about 45 minutes to the county jail.
Jenny Ferguson: First question I asked that police officer, this just tells you how bad I was. Have you ever seen a marriage survive something like this?
Tom Milligan: Seriously, picture this, Jenny is handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser because her husband’s a douche and she still wants to save the man.
She’s a much better person than I am.
Jenny Ferguson: I was so hopeful that I might get my dream back together. That I could, I got to save this like something. How can someone be like this? That I spent my night in my bed with. I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what I did.
Tom Milligan: Unbelievable. She’s an amazing person.
Jenny Ferguson: Now it’s 11:00 PM. I’m booked out and the police officers tell me I have one chance to go back to the house and get my items. I have to be out. My dad’s asking all the damn questions. This is my damn house. What makes you think you can kick me out of my house and tell me I can’t go back because he was pissed.
Tom Milligan: Damn straight. I seriously can’t believe they’re kicking her out.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember going back to the house at midnight and thinking I don’t have my dog, I don’t really have my car. Because my car was in the protection order. I don’t have my kid, I don’t have my house. I have my suitcase. I remember being so tired and so hungry. Because I hadn’t even eaten yet. I was so hungry, but I thought I’ve got to grab my library books, that my son and I got, because I don’t know when I’m coming back.
Tom Milligan: I’m not going to lie you guys, that made me tear up.
Jenny Ferguson: I went to my parents’ house that night and I thought, thank goodness I have family. Because I can’t imagine not knowing I would have nothing. I would be on the streets. Where would I have gone?
Tom Milligan: That is so true. Thank God she had family. It wasn’t until the next morning that the full picture started to come into focus.
Jenny Ferguson: I didn’t know he had filed for divorce at the time. So, the next morning, wake up, call all the attorneys and find out that he’s filed for divorce. Read the divorce papers. I mean, I was just thrown into it. Just completely just trying to figure out what the hell am I going to do? How am I going to get my kid back? What is going on? And that’s how it began.
Tom Milligan: After spending the night at her parents, she begins assembling the team, reading the paperwork and forming a strategy. She needs to know everything.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember going to the county and getting the entire paperwork of the protection order. Tom, the things that that man wrote in that are just absolutely absurd; that I was uncontrollable, but let’s be honest. I was uncontrollable because he wasn’t able to control me anymore. That I hit my child multiple times, that my child’s learning a speech impediment was my fault because of my abuse.
Tom Milligan: Of course, he accused her of child abuse. What else could he say.
Jenny Ferguson: My son did have a speech delay. I did have a state program, which is called Kids On the Move in my home, giving speech therapy to my child twice a month. Those are mandated reporters and they say on every sheet of paper that they leave with, that mom was there and that everything was fine and that saved my ass.
Tom Milligan: Take that Darryl. Because their case involved a protection order, their hearings were expedited, which means their first hearing was just 10 days after the protection order had been served. During that time, Jenny had to fight to get her car so she could do her job. Also to see her son in that 10 days, she hired an attorney who assured her that she would get her son back at the hearing.
Jenny Ferguson: Commissioner Patton said, my hands are tied. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t give you the kid. You technically violated the protection order.
Tom Milligan: Just to be clear, Jenny doesn’t blame Commissioner Patton. In fact, she has nothing but good things to say about him. His hands were tied and he wasn’t too happy about it.
Jenny Ferguson: We’re sitting there in the courtroom for the protection order hearing. I’m about ready to bawl my eyes out because I can’t get my kid. Commissioner Patton looks at me. He says, you need to go to the judicial system and get things changed. Because he was pissed that my hands are tied.
I can’t do anything. He says, I know who the victim is in this situation. So, the only reason why we’re sitting in this courtroom is because someone drew an imaginary line and because she crossed out imaginary line is the only reason why we’re here.
Tom Milligan: So, basically he did everything he possibly could without subverting the law.
Jenny Ferguson: Commissioner Patton awarded me the home. He told Darryl that he was never allowed to step foot in that house again, even if it was escorted by a cop, he was so pissed at him. He tried to give me anything that he could. Because he couldn’t get my son. So, we were able to get the house back and I was able to dig and find things and search and search and search.
Tom Milligan: Boom. So, 10 days after the protective order, she has her car and her house and Darryl wasn’t even allowed an hour to get his stuff. Nicely done, Commissioner Patton, nicely done. But Jenny still doesn’t have her son.
Jenny Ferguson: I remember thinking, I’ve got to figure this out. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I feel like I couldn’t breathe until I could find a solution to get my son back. That panic feeling never left until we got to our temporal custody hearing, which was 63 days after the protection order was filed. Because you know, these things take time. Right, and in that time I had changed attorneys. I was seeing my child every other weekend. But he was two years old. I went from being a full-time stay at home mom to now only seeing my child every other weekend. The trauma that was happening to him.
Tom Milligan: I hate it when mothers weaponize their children during a divorce. I hate it just as bad when fathers do it. Maybe even worse. It’s heartbreaking, no matter which parent does it, but I think Darryl has awakened a sleeping giant here.
Jenny Ferguson: I hired a personal investigator because you cannot prove that someone is a drug addict without a history of criminal records. Found out that he was hanging out with a woman who did have a criminal record and a DCFS case opened up on her child. He was hotboxing with this girl multiple times a week.
My PI caught the video. We’ve got footage, we’ve got everything. So, I knew I had to go a different route. So, the route that I went was to try to say that I had the best interest in the child and that my ex Darryl couldn’t even take care of himself. So, I hired a personal investigator and watched him over my birthday and Christmas and very nerve-wracking to know that your ex is getting high right before he picks up your kid and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
Tom Milligan: That’s rough. I can’t even imagine for all the pain I went through in my divorce. I can say that I never worried for the safety of my children. My ex is a great mom. My first ex I mean.
Jenny Ferguson: Well, we get to the temporal custody hearing with Commissioner Patton again. I have a new attorney. I have a ton of evidence that I had gathered up. I mean, this was my full-time job. I was going to prove that this guy is a lunatic. I had the best interest of the child and I had a damn good case. I had pulled text messages. I had showed that he had drug behavior. To this day I found a white powder and I still don’t know what it was.
I was told to not try to find out what it was because it could be my issue if I did. I believe that it was Oh, I don’t know what to call it. It’s a drug that they give to enhance all the other drugs starts with a K. I can’t remember what it’s called. But anyway, found text messages of him trading drugs, breaking the law.
I had brought all of this in and also to support that I’m not mental. I got a therapist note. I have all these mandated reporters that were in my home with all these sheets of papers. I mean, I had done the work. I had dug myself into it that I’m going to know the law. I’m going to figure this out. This is my son. Like I’m not messing around with this and so mama bear came out.
Tom Milligan: Like I said, I think Darryl screwed the pooch by playing hardball. This entire mess could have been avoided if he had just been reasonable and actually communicated with Jenny. But instead he lied, snuck around and came out swinging in round one, idiot. Back to the hearing.
Jenny Ferguson: So, we get in that courtroom and I’m all dressed up. I remember thinking I’ve got to stay calm. I’ve got to stay collected and I’ve got to be poised. I’m confident in my case. The judge has got to know that.
I remember practicing in the mirror. I’ve got this, I’ve got this, I’m going to do this, I’m not going to fall apart and I did it. I’m very proud of myself for doing that because the second we got in there, Commissioner Patton said, finally, I can do what I want to do. I had over 30 people at my temporal custody hearing to support me. Now, this was something that we had thought about if it was a good thing, or if it would be a bad thing.
I said, I don’t give a shit that Commissioner needs to know that all those people support that I’m not mental and that I’m not abusive. So, we get into the courtroom and his parents are there obviously all of my slew of aunt and uncles. I’m in a Mormon family. They’re all there.
Tom Milligan: That’s awesome. The evidence of Darryl’s bad behavior, coupled with the evidence of Jenny’s good behavior, finally allowed Commissioner Patton to do what he obviously wanted to do all along. An equitable parent time and custody arrangement was ordered and she was able to be with her son. But despite that victory.
Jenny Ferguson: The protection order was still in place. I could not communicate. I did not communicate with my ex for the entire divorce because the protection order was used as a leverage on his, whatever he thought it was leveraged. I thought great, I don’t want to talk to you. It’s gonna cost me a lot of money to go through attorneys. But it gave me my peace of mind. I was actually able to focus on myself and to work on what I needed to go through with my marriage and the therapy. Because I didn’t have this person ringing in my ear, which a lot of people do. Because you know, I coach people as well and that has become a huge issue. When you let that other person keep ringing in your ear. You got to stay focused on what your new life is going to be.
Tom Milligan: She’s right. It’s expensive, but probably worth the peace of mind it brings. That protective order is long gone, but the impacts live on today.
Jenny Ferguson: I’ve never talked to him face-to-face ever again. I never will. It breaks my heart for my son, but it’s in the best interest of both of us.
Tom Milligan: Even though the evidence gathered by Jenny’s PI was beyond damning. Darryl chose to fight her for custody. But now that that ruling was over, Jenny wanted the divorce to end. So, she decided to play hard ball too.
Jenny Ferguson: So, I gathered up my blackmail, if you want to call it that, because I knew that this was a secret life that he was living. He was still playing off as a Mormon Priesthood. Oh, speak of the devil. He just texted me. Put a lot of pressure on him. Eventually shared a video that I had of the personal investigator of him doing drugs. I said, If you don’t sign today, I’m putting down my retainer and we will go to court and he signed.
Tom Milligan: We’ll never know if he settled out of fear of what the courts would do or fear that he’d be exposed as an unworthy priesthood holder, but he settled. So, how long did all this take?
Jenny Ferguson: We were going to have our five-year anniversary that August. So, it broke out in spring of 2018. Then we settled in June of 2019.
Tom Milligan: So, about 15 months, the average is about 11 months. So, not too bad. But how much did it cost? Remember the average is about 11,000 bucks.
Jenny Ferguson: $70,000
Tom Milligan: Damn, 70 grand? For what? I am happy for Jenny, she came out a winner. In fact, she paid off that 70 grand and bought a house the very next year. So, what happened to Darryl?
Jenny Ferguson: He can’t pick anything up with his hands right now. They shake and they tremble and he can’t pick things up. Mind you, this man is 30 years old. He was diagnosed with a degenerative heart failure two years ago, blamed it on working out and his eating habits.
Tom Milligan: Should I feel bad for him? Because I really don’t. As always, asked Jenny how she feels about her experience.
Jenny Ferguson: People think that your life looks horrible, that they would never want to live that life. But I look back and I think I loved being a single mom. I mean, I hated the custody stuff. The opportunity that I was given to be able to work on myself and focus on myself was unreplaceable.
I needed that. Well, when I think about what I went through, you heard the stories, but a lot of it was emotional for me, emotional growth. I’m looking in the mirror and accepting my story, accepting who I am, that I am someone who was arrested and accused of being a mental abusive, but that does not define who I am.
On top of that, my divorce does not define who I am. On top of that I am not a victim. Yes. I was emotionally abused in my marriage, but I’m not going to be a victim. I’m not going to play that role anymore.
Tom Milligan: Isn’t she great? Jenny’s younger sister is getting married in a few months. So, Jenny offered some advice to her, but it applies to all of us.
Jenny Ferguson: Make sure you love yourself and you can look in the mirror and smile back. Make sure that you can love your spouse the way they are, and don’t expect them to change.
Tom Milligan: That is such great advice. I wish more people would follow it. As you’ve heard a few times during the show, Jenny, is a new mom of twins.
She’s also remarried.
Jenny Ferguson: My spouse has been, went through my whole divorce with me. I met him probably about five months after it broke out and he was my best friend through my whole divorce. I was never romantically interested in him because I had too much shit on my plate to even think about romance. But he was my one man on my side, and I love him for that.
Tom Milligan: I really couldn’t be happier for Jenny. She went through the shit and came out the other side, a stronger and better person. You have to admire that now. Jenny has a great social media presence, where she shares her advice and the lessons she’s learned. She uses the handle empowerment through trials all over internet.
Jenny Ferguson: You can find me on TikTok at Empowerment through trials. I’m also empowerment through trials on Instagram. I’m empowerment through trials on YouTube as well. So, empowerment through trials.
Tom Milligan: Words cannot express how much I appreciate Jenny for being on the show. I hope you find her stories inspirational as I do. Also, I hope you learned something about another culture and religion that you may not have known before. I always find that fascinating and a huge shout out to our divorce.com for sponsoring My Crazy divorce. The show wouldn’t be possible without their generosity. Finally, thanks to all you guys for listening, sharing rating, and reviewing the show. We’re seeing some great traction and that’s because of people like you, who help spread the word, please keep it up.
Thanks for listening and we’ll be back next week with another crazy divorce story. You don’t want to miss it. Goodbye.