When I arrived in Ukraine I had just separated from Olya, and Marta had just been born. Suffice it to say, I was emotionally confused and unhappy about my life. I was still officially a member of the NSA of Russia, but I felt my separation and my move to Ukraine required me to resign, which I did in early 2004.
The picture at the top left is from Barcelona. It is one of my favourites. Her mood is relaxed and happy. The one on the right is at the very start of our relationship. Here I see that she is guarded. She finished a nice day with me, but keeps her distance. The 2 pictures below are from the Crimea. Here she has opened up, she has developed some trust, and enjoys my company. Otherwise she would never have agreed to my participation in her annual biking event in the Crimea, something she planned for, valued– a high point in her life.
I hired Tanya to work for me as an executive assistant and eventually added cash transactions and bookkeeping duties for an EU funded project. So really, from my first days in Ukraine we were together all the time. We worked well together and Tanya was a big help to me for 3 years. I delegated quite a bit of authority to her, which I could do only if I trusted her. For example, she had access my bank account that was used for project transactions and she made cash transactions for the project (many ‘000 USD).
I remember thinking about the success of our work relationship. It really was successful from both perspectives, hers and mine. It was a source of comfort and encouragment to me that we had such a good relationship, and to her I was the best boss she had ever known (her words, not mine). My divorces often resulted from an inability to find the right balance in the relationship. In our work relationship, I can say that we did really well. When it started to develop into an emotional relationship, I didn’t realise it immediately, but I had stepped into a Ukrainian reality that I didn’t understand. In Ukraine, the women feel it is their place to take charge of the men, and control them. Ukraine is unquestionably a matriarchy. The concept of “consultation” and making decisions together are not the cultural norm.
She was and still is, I think, a bike fanatic. On the 2nd or 3rd bike trip in early spring 2014, in a wooded area on the edge of Kyiv, we stopped our bikes for one reason or another, and she kissed me. I remember the scene carefully. She was very playful, but there was no question that the kiss was choreographed in her head, and she was creating an image for me to remember. I was suitably entranced and a strange emotional bond was created– one that caused me a great deal of pain and, in the end, the same for her (something she would never admit to anyone).
Not long after the original kiss, after another biking trip, we returned to my flat after biking and she took a shower. Sometime later that week she wrote to me an email, where the shower was mentioned. Olya V hacked my account and read it. She was with my mother in Florida, introducing Marta to the grandparents and family in the US. Olya went ballistic after reading the emaii. To be honest, I don’t remember the first time that Tanya and I made love. It is possible that this shower episode was before we started sleeping together. But the fact that Olya read this email and reacted agressively pushed the separation to a divorce. Looking at the pictures of Tanya makes me remember the good times. I suppose all of us prefer to remember only the good times.
As I grew to know Tanya, I also began to observe that she hid things from me. I didn’t know what to make of the behavior, but it created doubts in my mind. The fights became more intense, and I didn’t realize at the time that she was just being Ukrainian. To illustrate, I was playing tennis with a Portuguese friend, and he received a call and an SMS. He showed me the SMS. It was his girlfriend, using very agressive and vulgar English. I smiled and gave the phone back and said: “You are in trouble. She really loves you.” That was after I had become accustomed to Tanya’s fighting. Perhaps (if she sees this) for the first time she will know that when we worked together I put a key logger on her computer. I had a right to do it; it was a work network. I did it because I saw that she was skilled at hiding. For example, she created multiple emails and accounts, under different names. So, literally for most of the time we were together, I knew many things that she did not know that I knew. I read all her emails to her girlfriends– one in particular. I knew all her passwords. Her writing was intimate and with a lot of detail and a lot of advice about relationships passed back and forth. Her closest girlfriend was having an affair with her married boss. Some of what she wrote was not very good. In retrospect, I wonder what caused me to stay in the relationship. So I knew an unrevealed side of Tanya all the time that I knew her. I knew that she kept her deepest thoughts to herself, and didn’t want to share them with me. I knew that she criticised me to her friends, especially if I didn’t buy her something. When I saw this behavior, I believed that it was just self-aggrandisement. But I saw that she had a special place in her mind that she only shared when she wanted, and only to a few people– all of them women.
Throughout the relationship with Tanya, money was an issue– not for me but for her. I’m guessing that around March 2004 I asked her out, to go to a performance of Irish dance. Just two colleagues doing something together. Nothing more. In fact, I remember how extra careful she was to keep her distance. We mixed business and work a few more times and, initially, there was never any sign of a more personal relationship until one day she suggested we go biking.
Tanya was my help at work and personally for the first years in Ukraine. It didn’t take long before our relationship deepened into a committment. Never did I ask myself if the relationship was stable or if it fullfilled my desires and goals for a relationship. I cannot explain why this happened. Never once did I discuss the Baha’i Faith with Tanya, and I can only guess that Tanya is an atheist. I really don’t know. She has a very strong moral code, it was her own code not associated with any religion or belief system. She never asked me about being a Baha’i.
All of us have our good and bad points. Before too long, Tanya and I began to fight. We fought over two things: Marta (and ex-wife Olya) and money (she expected me to take care of her). We never found a solution to either of these differences of opinion, and the result was divorce. Tanya had relations before me, but most of the stories she told me were not complementary about the men involved. She basically did not trust men. There was really only one example of a relationship that, in retrospective, she wished she had not lost. So, I would say that by the time she met me she had already concluded that she would not be in a relationship, and she was comfortable with that. I also think she had decided not to have a child in her life. So, when our relationship began to develop, Tanya had a very clear idea of what she would accept in a relationship and what she didn’t want in a relationship. For the most part, she wanted the financial security of an older man that would take care of her, but at the same time not have too many other demands. In other words, a kind of a companionate marriage where romantic love and even sex was not the main attraction. She enjoyed sex but she didn’t have a strong need for sex. Like many Ukrainian women in their 30s, she was not attracted to most of the available men and she did not want to fall into a bad relationship. Her closest relations were with women.
Our first trip to the Crimea for biking must have been April 2005. This picture is at the beginning of our relationship, and she is visiting my flat. She is thinking a lot about what she wants, and if it’ll be good or not.
And in fact, I did finally decide not to continue in the relationship. January 2005 I called it quits. We had already fought a number of times, about Marta and Olya, and I told her she can’t ask me to choose between her, and my daughter. To me, the relationship was over. I certainly didn’t learn anything about the end of my relationship with Sandra Paays in the Netherlands. After a month, I decided I wanted to see Olya Grigoreva. So by email I learned she was in Moscow, and asked her to take the train to Kyiv and stay a while. Olya was someone I really liked, and missed. She knew all about Marta and Olya and my life in Russia, and I wanted to talk to her. So she came in early March, and on 7 March 2005— International Women’s Day– I had a day to remember. In her flat with her cat, “Snake”. We lived together in this flat for a few months, when my new flat almost across the street was being finished. Below Olya G, a few years after the fight with Tanya, where she moves on with her life. I am very happy to see this. 7 March 2015 Olya Grigorieva, Olya Lehenka (a graphic artist working for me), and the girl who helped me with cooking and cleaning, were in the flat. The doorbell rings. The girl opened the door (she knew Tanya) and let Tanya in and called me from the other room. I was shocked to see Tanya in the hall. Apparently Tanya had heard that Olga G was with me at the flat. I asked her why did she come, what did she want? She pushed her way into the flat and sat in the big room with Olga G. I asked her if she wanted something something to drink. Big mistake. The next thing I saw, Tanya threw water into the face of Olya G, and Olya G responded in kind. Tanya was getting ready to take it to the next level. So I get in between them. Then Tanya’s insisting that Olya G leaves immediately. Then the threats start. If I don’t do what she wants, she will disrupt the office where we work, and disrupt contracts and payments that she was in charge of paying. I ended up asking Olya G to leave. To this day, I feel awful about it. But to be sure, Tanya would have created havoc at my office, and I couldn’t have that happen. Then I saw what I could never have anticipated, or imagined. When everyone left the flat, and we were alone, Tanya started to hysterically cry, and this went on for hours until she fell asleep. I stayed with Tanya because I saw another side, her good side, and believed it could be encouraged and she would stop hiding and she would learn to trust me and include Marta in our life. My daughter Aileen would love this story if she reads it, because she always believed she could change her abusive boyfriend, and couldn’t give him up. I told Aileen that he won’t change. And Tanya didn’t change either. I wanted to believe in the good side of Tanya and, in fact, there were a lot of positive things in our relationship. The one block that could not be overcome was my daughter Marta. There was no compromise on either side with regards to Marta.
Six months after the Woman’s Day incident Tanya and I were married. During that time period I bought a flat in Podil (it was actually selected during the time that we had ceased to be a couple, I remember that she had made a comment how terrible it was that I moved near to her flat). I also designed and finished the construction of the flat, and we moved into the flat around August.
By the spring of 2006 our marriage was breaking up. None the less, we maintained the facade of a marriage at our office, and when we went to North Carolina for the marriage of Nabil and Anna. The main issue was Marta. I told her that I cannot choose between her and Marta. She talked about a child, but she made it clear that as long as Marta was in the picture it would not happen. By the summer of 2005 I had already left the marriage in my head, and waited for the end of the project to make it official.
On the day we closed the project and said good-bye to the staff, we planned for Tanya to move back to her flat. Her mother called me to ask me not to do it, that Tanya was in love with me. Within a week I was travelling to Moscow to see Marta. After seeing Marta, I travelled to Odessa to meet Olya Mozarovskaya. That starts another story. To foreshadow, I saw Olya Mozarovskaya as a person with the same values as me (a deepened Baha’i), a teacher of young children, and a way to convince Olya Reusche in Moscow to trust me with Marta and give me opportunities to spend more time with her.