“Spite and Malice, also known as Cat and Mouse, is a traditional card game for two or more players. It is a form of competitive solitaire with a
number of variations that can be played with two or three regular decks of cards.”
The film The Wars of The Roses was the first time I thought of divorce as a game of tit-for-tat, or as something that might have a score card. I suppose that when a relationship breaks down, especially due to betrayal of some kind on the part of one partner, there is inevitably bitterness and blame and it’s only human to want to ‘get back’ at the person who hurt you in some way.
One thing I have tried very hard to avoid throughout this whole process is being bitter and trying to hit back/hurt E as much as I’ve been hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect – I will be the first person to laugh with sardonic amusement when E and P inevitably split up – but I have never deliberately done anything to hurt or harm E since he left.
In fact, I’ve never really thought of our separation as a game with scores, or as something with a winner or a loser. I’ve been deeply hurt by it and I think what’s happened has been grossly unfair to me and to the children, but I don’t keep score. Every day I’m happier with my life than I have ever been and I’m so glad that we’ve split up and that I have moved on from what was for me, I can now see, a horribly damaging relationship, which wrecked my self-esteem and offered me no love or respect.
However, in the light of recent events, I was thinking about this, and if E and I had scorecards, they would look like this:
|J’s Separation Scorecard|
|better and stronger relationships with my children, my family, E’s family and my friends|
|increased self esteem|
|a new job|
|a new car|
|a new sense of self|
|confidence in myself|
|E’s Separation Scorecard|
|Lots of shagging with P||my Youngest Daughter’s love|
|my Oldest Daughter’s friendship|
|both of my sons’ respect|
|unconditional support from J and the kids|
|time with my Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother in law and and brand new nephew|
|financial security (resulting from a brand new mountain of debt)|
Until this week though, I’ve never really thought of what’s been happening to me as a game or as a thing where two people, who once loved each other, had descended into petty point scoring.
Until this week.
Looking back, I think the ‘game’ began back in August. The problem is, I didn’t know I was playing it. It’s a situation scarily like the film The Wars of The Roses – it’s about marital possession, it’s about the house.
When E emailed me at the end of August asking me to sell the house, I didn’t realise at the time that he meant “immediately”. I was unsettled and upset by his request and I didn’t respond immediately (in fact, I took a leaf out of his book and ignored him for a while – the first and only time I have ever done this – whilst I waited for him to discuss how and on what basis he wanted to sell). Just two months later he reacted by withdrawing financial support.
From this point on, it’s been move and counter move:
Move one E: E withdraws financial support.
Move two J: This forces me to go to the CMS and find a solicitor. I had no choice, he wouldn’t respond to any attempts to communicate with him, but, given his response to my solicitor, I’m guessing he saw this as an escalation.
Move three E: E’s response to the CMS telling him he had to pay a certain amount, was to stop paying it (whilst complaining bitterly that he’d been ‘legally forced’ to pay towards supporting his children).
Move four J: I am forced go back to the CMS and ask them to collect payments direct from E’s salary
Move five E: E raises a financial query with the CMS, meaning that they are unable to collect direct from his salary until it is resolved. E continues to not pay anything to me.
Move six E (bonus move) E: In the meantime, just to add to the pressure I was already under, E defaults on the secured loan.
Moves seven to twelve, J: I call the CMS every week for five weeks to try and speed a resolution to E’s financial variation query. I establish what the query is (he’s trying to get the secured loan payment taken off the amount he pays in child maintenance). He provides no evidence for his claim, and doesn’t answer any of their calls. I, on the other hand, hold all of the paperwork re the loan and send copies to the CMS – which prove that E has a legal and equitable interest in the property that the loan is secured on, which means he can’t have it knocked off his child maintenance. My persistence pays off. On Tuesday this week, the CMS finally agree to reject E’s claim and to start claiming my child maintenance direct from his salary.
I sleep well for the first time in five months.
Move thirteen E: E cancels his direct debit for the Secured Loan – thus indicating that he has no intention of paying it, and therefore forcing us into more arrears and possibly leading to the repossession of the house.
At the heart of this is, I think, E trying to force me to do what he wants. This has made me realise that until now, in the 27 years we’ve know each other, I’ve always done what he wants. Even when we split up, I let him go, I didn’t make it difficult for him. I didn’t put stuff all over social media. I didn’t contact P or O or any of his exes. He saw the kids whenever he wanted. Apart from a few hurt and emotionally broken texts and emails, E got literally everything he wanted with no hassle when we split up. Therefore, when he decided he wanted to sell the house, I guess he expected my reaction to his request to be along the lines of “of course E, when would you like me to sell it, how much for and what else can I do to make your life easier?”
Even now, it’s not even as if I’ve refused to do what he wants. In fact, the only reason there has been no agreement re a sale is because E won’t talk to anyone. The problem seems to be that I’ve not agreed to sell it in exactly the way he wants. All I’ve asked is that we agree how and when we sell the house and the terms upon which we sell it (who does what, what needs doing, who gets what, how we, as parents, provide a home for our children going forward etc). I’ve offered to attend mediation. I’ve done everything I can to resolve this like grown-ups. But he is interested only in what he wants. He clearly doesn’t like the fact that I’ve resisted this time and, like every bully since the beginning of time, is trying to resort to force to get his own way.
I’ve long ceased to be shocked by E’s behavior, but the downright vindictiveness of his latest actions has still taken my breath away bit. Putting aside for one moment his lack of regard for me, why would he do this to his children? How can he deliberately put the roof over their heads at risk? I know he doesn’t care about me, I know he’s pissed off that I didn’t sell the house the second he told me to, but the fact he’s prepared to throw his own kids under a bus to get what he wants is a new low even for him and suggests that the game – a game I never ever wanted to play – has taken a very nasty turn.