Tales of a “Take Back Control” Freak

I am so sick of hearing my husband accuse me of being controlling. I realise it’s nothing new – controlling people, or just people with negative traits in general, love to reflect their own flaws onto other people.

I woke up this morning feeling so angry and upset. It was six o’clock in the morning and my children remained fast asleep for once. We returned from a short holiday yesterday and they ended up sleeping til 9am, but I was wide awake and stressed hours before that.

I cried some bitter tears. I was feeling so anxious about the house move later this week – not the move itself you understand, although it is a finely tuned operation which involves picking up a hire van, liaising with my parents, dropping the kids at the in-laws for the husband to collect later after sleeping off his night shift, doing a huge furniture shop at the nearest IKEA (a 45 minute drive away), liaising with a friend at the old house at 3pm with the van to go into the Lion’s Den and pick up my big bits of furniture and then putting together as much flat pack and unpacking as much stuff as possible.

That’s all happening, it’s all arranged and sorted. What hasn’t been arranged and sorted up to this point is me getting any kind of resolution – even getting to the point where I have been ready to re-engage my solicitor – actually file for divorce.

What hasn’t been arranged is any kind of child maintenance payments from the husband. I’ve let him get away with it because I’ve been living inside the protective bubble of my parents’ home and generosity. Now, six and a half months down the line, I’m going back into the real world and it’s an expensive place.

I work 18.5 hours a week which allows me to be there for the children before school every day and after school three days a week, I get working tax credits from the government to top this up a bit and it’s definitely a generous amount, particularly based on my circumstances of having two children of primary school age both under my care. However it is not enough to pay for rent (that payment alone is about £90 short of my entire monthly salary), food, groceries, gas/electricity, water, council tax, phone costs and broadband, clothes and activities for the children, contents insurance, petrol, 2 days a week after school childcare, car maintenance and insurance, and all the other sundries that life entails.

The £450 a month I have asked from the husband for child maintenance is a tiny portion of my outgoings but I have come to realise that I simply cannot be the sole financial (never mind physical, mental and emotional) support for our children without it. However he has only talked to me about it up to now in the vaguest of ways with no mention of a start date, so after my blip this morning I texted him and told him that if he didn’t give me a workable date for mediation today then I would be contacting the Child Maintenance Service and my solicitor tomorrow and forget about mediation.

He then, of course, told me that I was being controlling and imposing ‘arbitrary’ deadlines and ‘threatening’ him which he wouldn’t stand for. He also told me that I ‘need to learn how to talk to people respectfully’. I stood my ground but then realised that even if he gave me a date for mediation it may be weeks away and he has previous for cancelling these dates at the last moment. It is also no guarantee of him agreeing to begin paying me any money.

I then told him that I need him to begin paying me child maintenance this Thursday (1st September – my official moving date – the date when I owe my landlady £2250 for rent and deposit) – and that this would be the date I contacted CMS and got them to pursue him if he refused to co-operate.

He told me ‘not until we’ve spoken to [the mediator]’. I re-iterated my Thursday deadline and he never responded. But here’s the thing – I will contact the CMS on Thursday – I’m no longer afraid to rock the boat because I’ve come to realise that direct action is the only language some people understand and make one too many idle bluffs and you might as well lie down and get the word ‘WELCOME’ tattooed on your back.

This is me taking back control.

Advertisements

Homeless

Yesterday we had our first session of Family Mediation. It was the first time in over two months that I have spent more than five minutes in the husband’s presence and I was nervous. I have pushed for this mediation and had to cancel and re-arrange it twice because of his work so it was long awaited.

The way Mediation works (or did in this instance) was that each of us had half an hour alone with the mediator to explain our point of view and be given all the information we should need on the process before spending an hour and a half hashing it out together with the mediator as a ‘guide’. I had written and typed up a list of points – first and foremost to discuss our current living situation (me and the kids with my parents in their three bedroom house 30 miles from the kids’ school), and try and find some way to get back into our home, at least until financial matters are finalised.

Unfortunately the husband point blank refused to move out and the mediator didn’t dwell on the subject as nobody has the power to force someone out of a home which they own either fully or jointly. He pointed out that I was at liberty to move back in with the kids any time I saw fit but there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of me walking back into the lion’s den.

That makes the situation at ‘home’ sound.. well, almost dangerous. It’s not, at least not physically. As I’ve mentioned before my husband is not a narcissist. The way he has used our children as pawns in a power struggle between us proves, however, that he doesn’t think the way a normal, caring, invested father should and he sees no harm in demonising me if he thinks it will win him sympathy from our six year old.

He offered to buy me out of the house and came up with a figure which was only £10,000 short of the figure I’d had in mind myself. Weirdly, I wasn’t as thrilled with this outcome as I’d thought I would be. It was my intention to ask for the house to be sold and the proceeds split anyway and I had it in my mind that the lump sum would allow me to put down a deposit on a share of a ‘part buy, part rent’ property.

In theory, I could take the money and run with it but now I’ve tentatively started looking into the possibility of being eligible for a mortgage in my sole name based on my lowly part time salary and a minimal child maintenance sum the picture’s not looking so rosy. I’ve still got a lot of research to do and I tend to be optimistic about these things, but it kind of occurred to me earlier today that me and the kids are, effectively, homeless right now. We are in limbo.

I broke down in tears earlier, like proper heart-wrenching sobbing, and this was whilst I was lying in bed with the three year old supposedly singing him to sleep! Try explaining that to a pre-schooler.

I just suddenly thought, that’s it, my own home, the place I researched and fought for and furnished and lived in for the last 8 years (the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere other than my childhood home) is a place I will never go back into in the same way again.

I know it was my decision to end the marriage, my decision to leave the house, and believe me I don’t have any huge attachment to that place – it’s a nice enough three bed Victorian semi with a pleasant garden but it’s not really my idea of a ‘forever’ home (the parking and some of the neighbours leave a lot to be desired). So why do I feel so bad?

Escaping the madness

So much has happened – I don’t really know where to start. My husband refused to leave the family home. I’ve read a lot of accounts about this happening to other people – it’s not uncommon. My own solicitor expressed concern over me leaving our home with the children, however three days into what he termed “a trial separation” I was brought to the brink of despair and had to make that most difficult decision.

When you tell your husband that there is no hope of a reconciliation, that that door has closed, if he is not ready to hear or accept that then you can’t always predict how he will react. After making every promise under the sun to change, to address his issues, to cut right down on the drinking, to set to work immediately on improving our home, to book us some sort of luxury holiday for 2017 – you get the picture – then telling me that his brain was “completely re-wired” after two days, all the while making his very best efforts not to point the finger back my way, I just shut down.

It was all too much and at the same time that old cliché, too little too late. Maybe that sounds unreasonable but remember, I have been through cycle after cycle of this and yes, this time was different in that I handed him a letter from a solicitor to draw a line in the sand, this time I knew that I didn’t love him any more and told him so and this made his reaction and his responses that much more dramatic but I know who he is, what our life has been like together and how promises quickly wane and become obsolete.

By Wednesday evening I girded my loins, told him enough now, I still wanted a divorce, there was nothing he could do or say to change my mind. I can only describe what happened next as some kind of meltdown where at least two alternate personalities suddenly materialised – a tearful child curled crying in the foetal position and within a heartbeat a brutal manipulator who’s sole purpose in life was to prevent me from taking matters into my own hands.

I was going to explain what happened next in detail but, despite this being an anonymous blog, I can’t say for sure that anonymity is guaranteed and I don’t want to risk over-sharing. Suffice it to say that he chose to use our 6 year old son as a pawn and said a lot of very destructive things to him at that point (this was after our son had gone to bed) and he wouldn’t stop or back down until I told him what he wanted to hear (that I would put the idea of divorce out of my mind and continue to consider working on the relationship).

Explaining it in this way really doesn’t give any idea of how traumatic the whole incident was. I was in contact with my parents and my sister during and in the immediate aftermath and they were so concerned by the turn of events that my mum and dad immediately told me to pack our bags and come to live with them.  I had to put on a façade for two days then in the run up to the weekend when I planned for us to make the move.

To cut a long story short, my husband went off like a wonky firework when he discovered that we weren’t coming home. It has been a month now. A month of commuting 30 miles to infant school on weekdays, and my six year old missing out on his Beaver Scouts as we are just too far away to hang around that late.

But – despite the 60 mile round trip (80 miles if you factor in the extra 20 miles to and from my workplace and 120 miles on the day I don’t work and have to drive two 60 mile round trips in one day) – I realise how lucky we are to have been offered this safe haven.

One of my biggest worries about telling my husband that I want a divorce was what would happen if he refused to leave and we were forced to live together. I’m sure this is the case for many women. Of course you worry about how you will cope financially but you figure you’ll muddle through somehow – that the courts will step in and force unreasonable partners to make fair settlements.

The very first obstacle to moving forwards is a partner in denial – someone who will do everything in their power to cancel out the words you have spoken, the decision you have made. The courage you have slowly built up over the course of weeks and months in order to finally say “enough is enough”.

Without a real separation of our lives I’m not sure I would have been able to instigate the divorce process.

*Picture credit: Escaping Madness by Andrew Paranavitana