Young folks . . . do not stay in a toxic relationship!

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

One of the principal reasons that I published online, The Shenandoah Chronicles in late 2020 and early 2021, was for other people to learn from my mistakes. They were not crimes that I committed or lapses of ethical judgment. To the contrary, they were situations in which I allowed toxic people to use my adherence to traditional societal rules in multiple attempts to destroy me.

By no means is it the guy who is always the bad guy. Toxic women, parents, friends, neighbors and strangers are equally capable of evil. It took me coming close to death from a poisoned cup of tea given to me by my estranged wife to finally wake up to reality . . . but by then it was too late to prevent almost every other aspect of my life being destroyed by demonically-possessed people, close to me.

Last night I read an interview by a National Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger, who specializes in domestic conflicts. During the period when murder victim, Gabby Petito, was separated from her boyfriend overnight by enlightened police officers and NPS rangers, the ranger met with Gabby and tried to persuade her to go home immediately without her boyfriend. Just as I was for a long time, Gabby was in denial, and went back to the toxic boyfriend. She was murdered three days later. At the end of the article, the ranger listed all of the characteristics and warning signs of a toxic relationship. I had to answer “YES!” to everyone of them . . . including the fact that I repeatedly did not take seriously the warnings from friends and acquaintances.

Oh, I had warnings from our honeymoon onward. I will discuss them below. However, I chose December 1990 as the starting point of The Shenandoah Chronicles because there was absolutely no excuse for me to procrastinate any further and yet I did. You see . . . I had two wise friends, who officially were historians with the Smithsonian Institute. They told me to get out of my marriage as soon as possible and even provided “another woman” as an incentive. They also told me that the longer I procrastinated, the worse the divorce would be on my economic welfare. I did not fully listen to what they were saying.

My friends, Sara and Bob Danby, understood that men, such as myself, who have been foolishly loyal to a toxic wife because of religious beliefs, often require the appearance of a nurturing woman in their lives in order to take action. Heck! My wife’s own psychologist later told me to my face to immediately seek my nurturing with another woman, but I did not listen . . . just as Gabby Petito did not listen to the NPS ranger. Of course, what my two friends in Alexandria, VA could not tell me until later was that they were actually upper tier employees of the FBI . . . the real X-files couple . . . and that my toxic spouse had connections with the occult and organized crime.

Like most people . . . many earlier warnings

Typical of people in toxic relationships, I had many warnings through the years, but lived in denial. Friends in Mexico called me shortly after I returned from a honeymoon in Mexico. My bride had been in a drunken stupor much of the honeymoon and during one of those periods had told them, “Oh I don’t love him. He was just the only guy I knew with a good job. I’ll divorce him as soon as it is financially worth my while.” I came very close to filing for a marital annulment, but didn’t. I was worried that all the people who came to the wedding and wedding party would be angry at me.

Acquaintances and clients in Asheville, NC constantly hinted that she was frequently fooling around and intentionally avoiding pregnancy. One client even advised me to get a divorce ASAP. She told me that as soon as I married another woman, we would instantly start having children. What this lady did not tell me until after I was divorced was that lots of women, including an A-list actress, had already become pregnant with my vital bodily fluid . . . sold to them by my wife’s fertility doctor. It seems that half of Asheville knew this, but I didn’t.

By mid-1990, I had actually seen my beloved on the floor of her married paramour’s office, but still took no action, because of fear that I would have to sell my beautiful Shenandoah Valley farm in a divorce. I now know that there were three times, at least, when I could have become a death statistic like Gabby Petito . . . except because of her connections with the occult, she would have gotten away with it. I could go on ad nauseum with the stories of this fool, but let it end by saying that I was a fool.

As we would say here in the Appalachians, if you are in a toxic relationship, get out while the getting is good. Don’t be a fool like me!


  1. Hi Richard,

    Hope all is well…thanks again for your massive efforts.  We need to talk about toxic…you wouldn’t believe the stories.  But they are true.  “Mom”…”sister”…cousin…uncle…their friends…and mine.  Yuck…  Used to think I’ve just been unlucky but now it seems only a small minority can do the right thing. Now brother-in-law has made 2mn from my 1998 idea to knock down their empty barn and build apartments.  Nothing for me so far except being deleted.  He sure had a big idea.  Nice.

    All the best,


    Liked by 1 person

  2. How many years have we been friends? Close to 20 I’d say. So over the years you have mentioned bits and pieces of all this. After following the story you’ve revealed over these many months and now this warning to others who might see themselves in a similar situation, I see with clarity all you have suffered. I want to put this out here . . . I’m just so sorry you’ve had to endure all this and I truly admire your courage to stand and speak. You deserve a big friendly hug. So consider yourself Hugged!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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