Speak your truth…even if your voice shakes.
This is the start of my story. This isn’t about airing dirty laundry: It is personal and embarrassing and hurtful and shameful but it’s the truth and I can’t get over it until I’ve worked through it.
On April 7th my name will be broadcast loud and clear in one of the most humiliating and shameful ways I can imagine. On the courthouse steps as my home…well the house I used to call my home is auctioned off to the highest bidder. I can’t stop it. I can; however, be sure that I have had a chance to speak my truth.
My truth is literally all I have left.
In 2013-2014 I changed jobs and took on a challenging, life altering work project. It consumed me. 40 hour work weeks didn’t exist. While I was working until 10p-11p or later night after night I was thanking my lucky stars that I had a husband at home picking up the slack and being both mom and dad. I was so absorbed in work that I wasn’t paying enough attention.
My big babies came to me with concerns. They were worried their Poppy—the term I used to find so endearing for their step-father—now I choke on the word–didn’t have a job. I thought it was silly but I asked why. They explained their concerns so I asked the questions. I got satisfying answers:
The concern: My daughter mentioned that he was always home when she got off the bus.
His answer: “I don’t like Kinsley getting off the bus alone so I’ve arranged to take a late lunch.”
I was touched to have someone so thoughtful in my life and I let it go.
After the holidays I went back to my project and the kids went back to their lives. They also went back to worrying. Again, he was home at random times during the day…but he’d explained that. He was now picking up our daughter from daycare most everyday…he explained that too saying he knew my project was gearing up and that he had worked it out. I was relieved and didn’t ask more questions. I noticed he no longer had boxes of magazines in the garage, “I know you hated the garage all junked up so I quit bringing them home. I thought that would make you happy.” His boss no longer called but his answer of—“she has an assistant now so I can concentrate on writing and editing and don’t have to deal with her day-to-day schedule”—was plausible. I didn’t think another thing about it.
The kids concerns kept mounting….reports of outburst of temper, odd behavior, unemployment sites on the computer when they went to do their homework. I am ashamed to admit that some of their concerns I wrote off as ways to get my attention since I was so pre-occupied. The computer had no history—odd but not criminal—the hole on the wall-wasn’t him-or so he said-everyday conversations that were 100% believable. so there was still nothing that caused me alarm.
A marriage is built on trust.
During a day care holiday we had to ask my mom to watch the toddler. She raced in from out of town only to have Him still at home. He left in jogging pants and a t-shirt. He was back at lunch and then back again early afternoon. She expressed some concerns that mirrored those the kids had. I asked the questions again. Again, I got answers that made logical sense. He was the only one in the office that day and had no appointments so he could wear what he wanted, the magazine was at the publisher so it was a slow day and he wanted to get home early so my mom could get back on the road to her house. All reasonable.
To cheer me up from all the stress we re-did our bedroom. We took our baby girl on a birthday adventure weekend. We were headed to a beach wedding so I got the okay to spend a little bit to outfit us all. The whole time I am asking if our finances can take the extra and each time I am assured they can. He’s taking on a few extra jobs here and there so all is well…or so I am told.
Despite he being the ONLY one that knew he didn’t have a job he didn’t change one iota of spending. With some careful and deliberate cuts we could have made it work.
At some point the concerns did start niggling around a little in my brain. I was noticing odd Behavior. Seeming tipsy at odd times. Never sleeping. Even more short tempered. I was still working like crazy but began asking more direct questions.
“do you have a job?, do you have the same job? Do you make the same money? Are we current on all the bills? Is our mortgage paid?”
Every answer was the ‘right’ one. I started spot checking our checking account balance. The amount of money that I expected was there. I now know why-
We kept living our lives. Not a thing changed. He bought a $60 linen shirt at the beach. That still maddens me.
The Monday after our little beach get-away the niggles got the best of me. I called him at work…something I never did a) because at this point I was so busy that I usually only had time for a quick text asking him to get the girl and b) earlier he had told me to use his cell to call him at work because they’d cut back to one line and he didn’t want to tie it up on personal calls. This day i called I was told he no longer worked there.
And the earth stopped rotating.
I called and texted him but heard nothing. Late that night…after 8p he comes in from ‘work’. I confront him. He leaves. I don’t know where he goes.
The next day, APRIL 14th, I call back to his former employer. If he won’t tell me then I’ll just have to find out myself. I introduce myself and humble myself with the truth…I need to know when my husband last worked there.
The answer still haunts my dreams, “He quit in November.”
I leave work at lunch to try and get to the bottom of it all. He’s still yet to say a word. At 1p he’s in bed watching Netflix.
I haven’t taken a deep breath since that day.
6 months of lies.
I know I have to know more. Clarity becomes the goal. I start making calls. Every call is worse than the one before.
- Notices of delinquencies and unpaid bills had been re-routed so that I was not aware of any issues steaming from his not working. My contact number had been changed to his number or the address for the account had been changed to the townhouse. I never saw any evidence of all the delinquencies.
- Upon learning of the truth I called the mortgage company for our home. I am informed that this property has been flagged for foreclosure and was currently over $12,000 behind in payments. Company informed me that they offered a re-finance optionas a last ditch way to save the house. It was never signed nor returned so that so that deal was no longer on the table.
- A property I owned prior to re-marrying was being lived in by my ex-husband. The rent of that property covered the mortgage. When I called to check I discovered that this mortgage was $5000 in arrears and though NOT in active foreclosure had also been flagged to enter foreclosure.
- The more I look at the bank statement the more I notice something terrifying…the every other day trips to the package store…with the amount of money being spent and the amount of time he’s been shuttling kids back and forth…well…the reality of that still scares me.
- My savings-money I saved directly from my check was gone. So was was all of our tax refund. The things we has agreed to use that money for had not been paid.
- i contact our homeowners association who reports that the homeowners dues have not been paid on either residence and that there are liens on both properties
- Money borrowed for some dental work is gone…so now I am paying back a loan on dental work I didn’t get to have done.
- A few days later I receive a registered letter from an attorney. He a old a car and didn’t pay off the loan so did not deliver the title to the new owner. That owner is now suing and threatening arrest.
- I Found out the family car which I was told was in the shop for repairs in early 2014 had actually been re-possessed.
And that is my truth. I rapidly picked up the pieces as quickly as I could. I drove to pawn shops and jewelry stores to try and sell enough jewelry to save something but it wasn’t enough.
Easter of last year I didn’t have enough money to get to my parent’s house. I couldn’t buy Easter baskets or even groceries. Friends slipped me envelopes. My boss bought Easter goodies and wouldn’t let me say no. I got to Toccoa and my babies had Easter.
Later, my supportive parents, without hesitation or question, loaned me the money to save my townhouse. I was ashamed to take the loan but grateful that I would have a home. Night after night I packed what I could from our 5 bedroom, 3 bath house and prepared to move the 4 of us to a 2 bedroom townhome.
My amazing circle of friends rallied around me and literally got down on their hands and knees to get it clean enough to be inhabitable. They single handedly moved the tenant out and me in. And managed more than one hug in the process. By Mid-May we were safe and sound and trying to rebuild our broken lives.
My aunt and uncle made sure my children could participate in their Summer swim. Thanks only to them we have 2014 state medals and thier lives had some sense of normalcy.
In early summer he moved.
The last hurtle was the house. I couldn’t save it alone. I made it clear that he got us into the mess and he had to get it out. His last words to be were something to the effect of he would let anything happen to the house. He would fix it. That was the last I heard.
I had to sell my wedding rings to pay for parts of a divorce. My parents had a friend who was generous beyond belief or I wouldn’t have been able to do that. The Christmas presents…or any that could…were sold off or sent back.
In October the divorce was final. I had re-built a life and taken back I name I could be proud of. Too bad there was no dignity left.
Last week I got a certified letter in the mail proclaiming a foreclosure date of April 7th. Evidently it was not the first letter sent; however, It was the first one I ever saw.
Today I get the news that he didn’t conduct himself well on our behalf with the short sale company. He didn’t do things they asked, didn’t act honorable or even honestly—and as stupid as it sounds I was surprised all over again. They told me—the short sale agents—not the culprit of the catastrophe, that our names had been in the paper as the foreclosure was announced.
I am speaking my truth even though my voice is shaking. These are the facts. To get better, to get ‘over it’ I am also going to have to do the work of speaking how I feel about the facts. That’s not as easy.
I can’t control what people reading about the foreclosure in my community paper are saying. I can’t stop the whispers at the ball fields or the sideways glances at the grocery store. All I can do is speak my truth, surround myself with good friends and family who help instead of judge and protect my babies from as much of the truth as I can.
This is my truth.