The frustration is real. Not just being back in lockdown but being locked in with my ex-husband, still. The feeling is akin to listening to nails being dragged slowly down a chalkboard.
It’s my home! I organised the purchase of it and the move across country to it as the start of my new solo life. That was a year ago. My ex is proving as hard to get rid of as this damn virus. He asked to help with the move and was staying a month at most until moving out to a nearby city. Two weeks of that month were spent visiting his family in Central America. So not so bad. Then the pandemic hit hard, he lost his new job and flat and we were locked in together – in my “new life” home, purchased for one human and three dogs only.
It paid off to begin with as negotiating a divorce isn’t easy, especially when you’re the one that stands to lose. I’d had no idea, naively, that he could steal (legally) my saved pension money. I’ve since told all my friends so nobody else ends up in that, just got sucker-punched in the gut, shocking situation. Most didn’t know, we knew about property – which I had a pre-nup for – but my pension! Didn’t know he could go after that. I’ve paid into my pension scheme for years through my job, by myself, all in my name. I’d also supported my ex (when we were married) the multiple times he quit jobs in a bad temper or gambled up debts or his overseas child support needed paying. I paid the majority of that child support over the years, they’re great kids – it’s not their fault their Dad’s an irresponsible man-child incapable of providing for them. I felt I had a responsibility as their step-mum so I stepped in and paid their maintenance. Those kinds of things I don’t regret as it was the right thing to do.
Be careful, very careful
The point I’m trying to make, so others don’t fall down this rabbit hole, is – you can be responsible, sensible and do all the right things, pay the bills, save, put away for your retirement and you can be married to a spouse who does none of those things, doesn’t contribute, drinks and gambles what money they do earn and then…. when it’s over …. steal what you earnt and saved and do it legally with the help of the law. Indeed, when we went to court to have the financial order settled, the female judge practically incited him he ask for more of my money. I’d managed to negotiate amicably a settlement with him that wasn’t as bad as it could have been had he gone full hog…. but ….. I’d made it clear I’d fight and lawyer-up and all that dirty laundry he liked to hide from the world would come out in a public courtroom and I wouldn’t hold back. Therefore, ultimately by the time he’d paid for a lawyer and dragged it all out he’d end up with about the same as I was offering or less. A friend advised I use the encouragement of a “public courtroom” and it was good advice, if your ex doesn’t like anybody knowing their ugly truth this incentive can work.
I by nature keep a dignified silence on my personal matters, I’m not someone who airs my dirty laundry. Only close friends know the truth. It actually pains me to write all this, I feel stupid and humiliated I allowed myself to be treated so badly. Because I’d fallen in love with the wrong person and foolishly trusted them, I’d handed them the keys and the power to steal from me. It put me in a vulnerable position, one I had to carefully manage, while keeping my true feelings to myself, about him and him daring to ask me for my money, that I earnt, after telling me for years he never would. Information is power and I want to tell my story in the hope someone else is saved from making themselves this vulnerable. Also, be careful when you’re marrying another culture, some have different views on these matters, so you better make sure you’re aware of that before marrying. I’ll never forget my ex blurting out, “So, that’s all I get for a 10-year marriage.” Like it was something you make money out of, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything more disgusting and repulsive but unfortunately, he’s not the only person in the world with that kind of thinking. About something as sacred as marriage, just remembering those words makes me want to puke.
The finish line
Now I’m all the way through the divorce, all the paperwork sorted – the decree absolute and the financial order – I’m free! It feels great, it really does. He can’t threaten my life anymore with his duplicity and stupidity. Well, except I’ve just got to get him physically out of my house now!
I gave him a deadline of the end of January after being exasperated he was still here at Christmas. He asked me where I supposed he should go? I explained solving his problems was no longer my concern and he needed to figure that out for himself. Surely, he had more than enough settlement money to go get a place. He then yells he doesn’t have it anymore. This may be true; his family overseas are masterful at taking off him what he takes from me. Or, he’s trying to get more money out of me to go. I don’t know. He said he needed to get a job and I said you have to the end of January.
He’s still here…. yes, I have stepped it up though. I’m so frustrated at the unfairness of this situation and the cheek of him for not getting gone already. He keeps out of my way but just his energy in my home is ruining what was supposed to be my sanctuary. He’s back working and has viewed some places to rent this week – how did we get this far? I rang the police and got some advice. Turns out I was right to keep him only as an unwanted houseguest and not take any contribution towards living expenses – not that he offered any, but I thought if it ended up coming down to it and I needed him kicked out not allowing him any excuse to call himself a “tenant” or “lodger” instead of “unwanted houseguest” was best. The lovely policeman I had my video-call interview with said I’d been very smart to do that as they can remove him immediately from my home any time I ask them too as he has no rights to be here. Now, what you need to know if you end up in this situation is that it’s considered a civil matter but because he’d caused some damage in my home due to a fit of anger and I felt threatened the police advised they will step in to help me as my safety is their priority. This may not be the case if you don’t live in England of course. I’ve got to say, the way they handled my call was exemplary, they were empathetic, supportive and helpful.
Information is power
With this new information, I told him the score, that if he didn’t move out I can call the police and they’ll escort him from my home – it wasn’t easy to do as his temper has meant I’ve tiptoed around him for years. I’m feisty, at least I used to be, and I have a backbone so trust me this can happen to anyone if you live long enough with a volatile, unpredictable, mood-swinging partner. You lose your voice and keep your own anger under wraps.
I’ve thought maybe the universe, my angels, God – whichever higher power you believe in was waiting for me to find my voice again where my ex is concerned and tell him the truth of my feelings. Maybe that’s what was left to do before they helped me push him out the door because believe me, I’ve been praying on it. Well, that came to pass after I found my garden fairy lights all burnt down one morning. I went and knocked on my spare room door, went in and said calmly, “Why are my fairy-lights burnt down?”. “Because I felt angry, sorry” was his reply. Then all the words I’d kept inside tumbled out, I didn’t yell, I remained calm and I started with, “You’re angry? Do you begin to imagine all the shades of angry I feel? Let me tell you …. you were a terrible husband, you betrayed me in every way, then after years of swearing you’d never take money from me, after you ended our marriage – you asked for money! Money, I earnt, you didn’t, as far as I’m concerned it’s like stealing. Now I ask you to move out and you’re still here because you’re incapable of getting your shit together, you make consistently bad choices and you have no discipline. Because of all that you forced me to take care of you and pick up the pieces after your endless fuck-ups. I’ve taken care of you for over 10 years, enough, I’ve had enough, either adult-up for once in your life and get your shit together or find another back to climb on because this ones done!”
That was when I went back downstairs and rang the police for advice on how to get him out. Taking my power back, it’s clearly necessary. Now he’s started a job and looking at places because I’ve got my metaphorical foot firmly on his back …. he knows he’s out of time with me and of course he left it to the last minute to do anything.
Why don’t I just call the police and have him removed? I’ve been seriously considering it; I still hope it doesn’t come to that. Not for him, for me – I know he’s burnt his bridges so I’m aware he’d be in a homeless type situation potentially and I don’t know if my conscious could cope. I don’t love him, not even a little, I have no time or respect for him and realised the person I loved didn’t actually exist in reality but still doing that to anyone, no matter how awful they’ve been to you, it’s a lot. I’m hoping one of these rentals comes through and he’s out quick. I can’t take many more nails down this chalkboard.
My hopes of managing an amicable separation are over but my hope my experience will help someone else is alive as I write this.