real life

'My ex wants us homeless and starving.'

I’m writing this on Father’s Day. My boys gave my ex a pair of sneakers and they both designed t-shirts for him. I used a coupon I had from DSW to buy the sneakers and I spent the last of my Amazon credit on buying white t-shirts. I literally spent my last cents to ensure they had nice gifts for him.

In return he is going to baseball game without the boys and informed me that I have the boys overnight tonight (I found this out yesterday). I have approximately $23.50 to survive the week. I have food to feed the boys at home, but not to give them lunch for camp tomorrow. My littlest one will be fine as he only really eats bagels and pasta and I have those, but my oldest is going through a growth spurt and I cannot feed him enough fresh fruit, tortillas, or raisin bread. I have no fresh fruit, I’m down to two tortillas and no raisin bread ($4 a loaf).

Last night I went out with a friend for her birthday dinner with a bunch of other mums from school, she knows my financial situation and was treating me. It got a bit awkward when it came time to pay the bill as everyone wanted to treat her, my part was $45 – she came to the rescue and got another mum to pay my part. It was frankly humiliating, but I’m used to that now. I also gladly accepted $40 from her on our ride home. Beggars can’t be choosers.

I can’t complain too much because I live in a lovely house in a beautiful neighbourhood (he pays the rent). I do get spousal support which he pays at the very last minute, and I work so I have health insurance. But the costs of leaving the family home (which I co-own), divorcing and enduring over a year of financial abuse has left me with crippling amounts of credit card debt. As soon as any money comes in it goes out, if I’m lucky I can pay off the interest payments each month. This month I had to pay for car insurance, so the credit cards will have to wait.

But here’s the kicker, we have plenty of money.

Image: Getty.

I have plenty of money. Our house was worth over a million dollars, we sold our old house at an enormous profit in 2014 and my ex makes a decent salary. But over the past 2½ years (or really five), he has managed to hide away all of our assets in his own accounts. The first time was in November 2014 when he transferred pretty much all the money we made off our house sale into his personal account.

Then he found out I went to a divorce lawyer and he cancelled all my credit cards and withdrew all the money out of our joint account. In March 2016 I went abroad for my brother’s surprise 50th birthday party against my ex’s wishes and he withdrew all the money from any accounts I had access to, other than my own personal account, and froze our investment accounts.

In the summer he gave me a credit card with a $650 credit limit and then gave our au pair a credit card with no limits. My card has now been cancelled. In the past year I have subsided on gifts from my mother, friends treating me, and going through every purse I have looking for loose change. There was one day where I literally could not afford to get to work.

In every other part of my life I am happy.

Domestic violence can take many forms. Post continues after audio.

I was so relieved to get out of a truly horrendous situation of living under the same roof with my ex as he emotionally and verbally abused me daily in front of my kids. I am in a much, much better place, I don’t regret leaving at all. But I cannot look forward right now, as I have debt collectors calling, I am unsure as to whether or not he will pay my rent or spousal support next month because our temporary divorce agreement has expired.

I’m not interested in going on a spending spree when we finally get our divorce finalised, but I am looking forward to the day when my son asks to go to GameStop that I can say yes, or when he asks for raisin bread I have a whole loaf ready for him. I want very little for myself, except the financial security to know that I can afford an emergency, I can pay my own way at a restaurant and once in a while a steak dinner would be nice.

Until then, I’ll be counting out my dollars and cents to go buy some blueberries, oranges, bananas and raisin bread. My Costco run in January is running out, so hopefully we will reach a financial agreement before I run out of toilet paper.

This post was originally published on Divorced Moms and has been republished with full permission.