A is for… and then he left me

Josie’s Writing Workshop

For the first time I am going to attempt to play with the big girls and join Josie’s writing workshop. I do know that I am a little out of my depth and I hope that you’ll humour me!

All of the prompts looked a bit ‘hard’ to me, but having decided I would do this I made myself pick and I went for:

1. Tell me about a time you decided to move house. What prompted it? Did you want to move? What did you leave behind, and what did you find when you got there?

A is for…. and then he left me

On Friday 9th July 2004 I was busy making preparations for my youngest son’s 3rd birthday the following day. We were having a party at home on the Saturday and there was lots to get done. We had a large-ish 1930s house with a 200ft garden, so a garden party was the plan. It was a happy time until my then husband came home from work and announced that he was leaving me, leaving us, leaving a 10 year relationship for a woman he had met 2 weeks ago.

Not only was he leaving but he was smug about it. He was boastful of how he’d never loved me, we should never have got married, never have had children and how he was actually doing me a favour and that I’d thank him in the long run.

There was to be no discussion, apparently I had no say in the matter. There could be no counselling – there was no need he said, after all he wanted to leave didn’t he, he didn’t want to try and work out a way to stay.

Yes, he said while smiling, he was seeing someone else – but that had nothing to do with why he was leaving. He was very clear about that, he was leaving because of ME, because I was horrible to live with, because he didn’t love me or fancy me – hadn’t for years apparently. BUT he did add that on the subject of ‘the other woman’ she would be meeting the kids this weekend and because the kids were so young they would probably grow up calling us both mum.

So. As you can imagine the world kind of collapsed in on itself at that moment (and I’m ashamed to admit for a few months after) however I did go ahead with the birthday party and my then husband had the audacity to attend for the whole day. I was too upset to explain anything to my friends and family so I hid (badly) behind dark glasses and that party was probably the most hideous day of my life. (Sorry youngest son.)

It soon became evident that not only was he leaving but he had no intention of giving me any money. I had no source of income myself at the time and so I had to sell the house before it got repossessed (£2600 equity after costs, of which he took half). With the help of a very nice estate agent I am pleased to say that I did manage this – just. An excrutiating moment springs to mind from one of the estate agents visits, I was having a bad day and I’d forgotten he was coming round. When he arrived neither of the children were dressed and I was very tearful. Bless him, lovely man, he made me a cup of tea and encouraged the children to dress themselves in a ‘dressing up game’.

Not only was my husband not paying anything, but also it turned out that he had left me hideously in debt. Store cards, credit cards, bank accounts – all in my name to tune of appx 34K. YAY.

So, with no income and a newly discovered bad credit rating I was faced with the prospect of find a new home for me and my boys – and our cat.

I wont, can’t, describe the visit to the housing office. Sitting crying in that office was one of the all time lows of my life. In short, they offered me a B&B (ie. you cannot be there during the day and you share a bathroom with strangers) in a town 20 miles away from our existing home, my friends and the children’s school.

I went to see some letting agencies who all turned me away. Upon hearing of my plight a friend offered to stand guarantor – I can’t thank them enough for this, it sounds dramatic but it pretty much saved my life.

And so, we found a very small 2 bed house with a tiny garden. And with 6 months payments upfront from my mum and a knight in shining armor as a guarantor,my boys and I moved into our new home. It was hard to explain to the boys why our new house was so much smaller. It was hard to explain why we had a concrete courtyard instead of a garden. It was hard to explain why we couldn’t bring all their toys. It was hard to explain why their cat had had to be re-homed. None of these were as hard as having to explain why their daddy wasn’t coming with us.

However, I was surprised to find that I felt a strong sense of this little house being MINE. It was nothing to do with HIM. I got to choose what I put in it – which he had never allowed me to do in ‘our’ house. I did whatever I wanted with my children, if we wanted to mess around we did, if we wanted to paint pictures, we did, if we wanted to stay up past bedtime to watch a film and eat popcorn, we did. I got to put up pictures that I had chosen and bought, I got to decide what I did and when I did and most importantly of all – my boys, were MINE. I know my boys went through a difficult time and if I could take away the pain of their dad leaving then I would do anything to achieve that. But if I may look at it in an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ way, I cherish the relationship that I have with my boys and I am a better mother because of what happened.

I stayed in that house for just over 2 years and in those 2 years in my little house I found ME. I was very lucky, I was only on benefits for about 6 months before I found a job and began to support myself. I am in no way criticising anyone on benefits, if I hadn’t of been offered that job I can’t predict how my life would have turned out. I just know that I felt such a sense of pride, of self worth and for the first time I started to have a true understanding of what was important in life.

After about 3 months, my brother’s wife said to me ‘It’s good to have you back’, I couldn’t see what she meant at the time but I can now.

I hope I didn’t wander too far off of the subject matter and that this post is ok for the writing workshop.

EDITED 15:4:10: I realise I should have added that although it took me 6 years I have paid back every penny of the debt. Most were joint debts but I was told by every debt company that due to ‘joint and several liability‘ even if I paid off half the debt, they would still hunt me for the other half. And boy did they hunt. They couldn’t get hold of my ex which put me nicely in the frame for the whole lot. Anyway, now I have hardly any assets and zero savings and although at times it pains me to have ‘lost’ all that money, I am very proud that I paid off the whole damn lot!

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