As I’ve watched E deliberately plunge me into an increasingly unmanageable financial situation over the last year or so my feelings have ranged from an initial stunned shock, through helplessness, bewilderment, disbelief, incredulity, hurt, irritation and, I guess inevitably, finally, anger.
I’m angry with myself for my stupidity in thinking that E was a decent person who’d done a despicable thing. He’s not. He’s a despicable person, who’s probably not capable of doing a decent thing. I’ve been angry with the CMS for taking so long to help me get a child maintenance payment. I’ve been angry with the Secured Loan company for their threats and constant calls re my financial situation (especially because E is just not taking their calls, meaning I get all the pressure). I’ve been angry with my bank, for the fact that whilst they’ve agreed to accept £1 per month her debt, that they are still sending me final demands, and letters telling me I’m being referred to their collections agency. I’ve been angry with E’s family and friends for not pressuring him to do the decent thing. I’ve been angry with P for her idiocy in believing every lie E feeds her. I’m really, really angry that there is no financial safety net for women like me, who work so hard and are failed by their ex partners. I’ve sometimes even been irrationally angry with the kids, for just not comprehending how desperate the situation we’re in is. But most of all I’ve been angry with E.
I’ve always thought of anger as a useless emotion that will get me nowhere, but in lots of ways the anger I’ve been feeling has forced me to confront the truth about E. This is a man who is so selfish, so full of himself, so monstrous that he is prepared to throw his four children under a bus in order to make his point and flex his financial muscles. He knows that I can’t afford school uniform for Youngest Son, or music lessons for Oldest Son. He’s been told that Oldest Daughter is in rent arrears. He understands the support that Youngest Daughter needs. But he has not offered so much as a penny to help them. In fact, as well as paying no child maintenance for nearly a year, and defaulting on the mortgage payment he was responsible for, meaning that the kids and I are facing eviction from our home, he’s even cancelled the phone contracts he was paying for the kids, so they can’t make calls, and have to use internet based apps to keep in touch with family/friends. He is literally paying zero to keep his kids alive.
I’m angry on behalf of my kids, who deserve so much better. When they contact him to ask for help, he just refers to ‘the money situation’ – as if it’s something that he’s not responsible for, as if he’s some kind of victim of a misfortune that he didn’t create (of course, the unspoken implication in his messages is always that it’s somehow my fault). He’s even used this as an excuse not to see the boys. I think I can count on one hand the number of times he’s seen them this year. Oldest Son doesn’t say much, but I think he feels very let down. Youngest Son is increasingly disillusioned with him. In fact, he sent me a text the other day that was entitled ‘Dick Pick’, when (somewhat alarmed), I opened it, it revealed a screenshot of E – sporting a rather horrifying moustache (that, or a large hairy ginger caterpillar was stuck to his upper lip). Whilst it revealed Youngest Son’s brilliantly wicked sense of humour, I think it also showed the hurt behind the humour. This is a 13 year old boy, who used to worship the ground his Dad walked on. Now, whilst he’ll always love his Dad, he sees him as a failure, an idiot, a let down.
I’m angry for his family – it’s not just us that E has cut out of his life. As far as I know, he still hasn’t contacted them. When they visit, we don’t really talk about him, but he’s still the (now ginger mustachio-d) elephant in the room. His Mum and sister still try to see them best in him. His Dad just looks devastated. I think, as a father, he can’t come to terms with the way his son has behaved.
I’m angry for my Mum, Dad and sister. Mum and Dad have provided me with so much financial and moral support, I would not have made it this far without them. But they’re in their 70s and they shouldn’t have to financially support their nearly 50 year old daughter. My parents are buying my food at the moment – that’s just not fair to them. Not only that, but my Mum is poorly (with the cancer E told O was ‘terminal’ four years ago), and she doesn’t need the additional stress of worrying about me. My family don’t need the stress of worrying about me. I’m also angry that the situation E has put me in has meant I’ve had less time to focus on my Mum – she deserves all of me, but I haven’t been able to give it.
I’m also so angry for myself. I just don’t deserve this. I spent 25 years loving E and standing by him through thick and thin. He met someone else (well, several someone elses over the years), and that’s fine, these things happen, but there has never been any need for him to treat me the way he’s treated me. Anyone decent would have at least given me the respect that those 25 years deserved. Anyone decent would have acknowledged those 25 years and wanted to talk bout how was best to separate and how to look after the kids. Someone decent wouldn’t have rushed into a marriage just months after leaving his family (To prove what? To show how romantic and wonderful the relationship that tore five people’s lives apart was?), they wouldn’t then have lied about that marriage for months. I know now that E isn’t decent, I know now, as Oldest Daughter says ‘he’s just not a good person’, but I’m still fucking furious that he’s the kind of person he is.
I used to think of anger as futile and a waste of emotional energy. But I’ve realised that, on days when, having battled the CMS, the bank and the Secured Loan company, and one of the kids needs something that I can’t afford (shin pads for PE, or just £5 to go out with friends), the fact I feel anger is a good thing. There is an energy to it that means I’m not defeated and that I will keep fighting. I’m beginning to realise that anger, like all powerful emotions, can be helpful when used wisely.
In lots of ways anger has been what has saved me. It’s stopped me giving up and giving in. It’s reinforced my sense of right and wrong. It’s made me determined to fight for other woman that end up in the same situation as me (it’s scarily common for ex partners to just not pay the child maintenance they owe). It’s made me determined to fight for my kids. It’s given me an increased sense of myself and of my rights. At the end of the day, anger might actually be what saves me.