This blog post features incidences of domestic violence. If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence, confidential help is available:
When Georgia Smiled – founded by Robin McGraw
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
“It is never wrong to do the right thing.” I 100% agree with this!
However, just because we do the right thing doesn’t always mean we will get the right results. When the light switch went off and I decided that I wasn’t going to get kicked around one more second, I had to make some pretty quick decisions. Some people may not understand or agree with the decisions I made, but for me, I felt I didn’t have any other options. I had made a safety plan with the help of my counselor. That included making sure all the important documents I would need were together and easily accessible. I was advised to get money out of the bank account. Because of my situation and the environment I was coming from, I didn’t follow that advice. I prayed and thought long and hard as to what I should do. I had been able to put away a little bit of money without my husband knowing, but I knew there would be serious consequences if I touched any of the money in the checking account. I opted to not take any money, and just make due with what I had stashed away.
Let me jump ahead to a few months later. My soon-to-be ex then decided that I needed to be taught a lesson. He made an appointment and filed for divorce. I did not have the money to hire an attorney, so I chose to use the same attorney he did, with the full understanding that the attorney was on his side and not mine. Keep in mind that while he did this, I was living in a motel, still waiting on my apartment to become available. I also had my soon-to-be ex chattering in my ear that if I didn’t do it his way, he would see to it I would be financially strapped for the rest of my life! My head and emotions were in a total fog. I really don’t know how I functioned on a day to day basis.
On that note, I chose to not fight for anything. He agreed to take 100% of the debt we had accumulated if I agreed to let him keep the house,his 401K, retirement, and not ask for alimony. I trusted that since I was doing what I believed to be the right thing, it would pay off in the long run.
A week later, the divorce papers were signed and filed. Eight days later, yes, I said eight days, my divorce was final! I never saw that coming! In my head it went completely different. In my head, I would stand before the Judge 30 days later and explain to him why I didn’t have an attorney, at which point it would buy some time to find one that would help me, and even better, my ex would have to pay for. Instead, the Judge looked at the papers, saw it was a non-contested divorce and finalized the papers. In my county, this had NEVER happened before. I walked away feeling defeated, but not without hope. I still hung on to the fact that it is never wrong to do the right thing.
I spent my first year walking around in a fog. The divorce decree had my ex as full owner of the house. He did not need to sell it. I was instructed to sign a quitclaim deed. I knew enough to not sign that unless or until he refinanced or assumed the home loan in his own name. On several occasions, I had asked him to begin the process, to which I was told to settle down, that I would not “control” him. Still, I hung on to the hope that if I didn’t react to him, or did the “right thing,” I had nothing to worry about. Soon after, my ex-husband moved into another house with his girlfriend, promising me he wasn’t going to screw me over. As I read this sentence, I scratch my head and laugh; why in the world would I believe he was telling me the truth now after 26 years of lies!
I found an attorney who did not charge a consultation fee and explained to him my situation. He assured me that my divorce wasn’t exactly legal since it didn’t sit in the court for the required 30 days. Because of that technicality, I should be able to modify the divorce and not only force my ex to either refinance, assume, or sell the house, but also, I should be able to get spousal support. Wow! Really? I felt like I hit the jackpot! I asked him if he would represent me and he said he would gladly represent me.
The time came for me to go to court. I was nervous, but I knew that my time had finally come. Sadly, it did not. The Judge decided he would just read the documents that were presented to him and he would rule later. He never even looked up to see me. That was June 2012. I did not hear another word from my attorney or the court until December.
It did not end in my favor. Simply put, according to the Judge, I knew what I was signing when I signed the papers, there wasn’t any need for the courts to keep the divorce in the system for 30 days. I was devastated. This was the first time I began to doubt my theory of doing the right thing. In April of 2013, I received a phone call from my ex. He was calling to let me know how “sorry” he was, but he had filed bankruptcy and the house as well as myself were now in foreclosure. I was angry, furious actually. In one quick swoop, after being divorced for 3 years, he took total control of my finances without my permission, and without warning had totally destroyed me. There was nothing I could do to protect myself. I called the bank where the home loan was and explained my situation. I had 3 weeks until the foreclosure to come up with a solution. I had no idea where to find a $128,000 solution.
Between December 2012 and now, so much has happened. More than I can even put into words. Many, many disappointments. Some may even say, “why bother doing the right thing? It hasn’t worked out well for you when you do. Why not just do the “easy” thing instead? Or the thing that will give you the results you want?” I could do that. But then, do I really get what I want if I do that?
Last week I spent my day in federal court. I claimed defeat, and had to file for bankruptcy. I am not at all proud of this, but I didn’t know what else to do. While the bankruptcy did not protect me from the foreclosure, it does help my finances in the big picture. I cannot put it into the legal terms that I was given by the attorney, but he said that the foreclosure will be off my record sooner with the bankruptcy than if I just left it. So, some may say I took the easy way out, but I did what I thought I should do because I felt as though I was drowning.
Where am I today? Today I understand that doing the right thing is always the best choice, even if I don’t get the results I had hoped for. Today, he can no longer take control of any area of my life. What happens to my finances from this day forward will be because of the choices I make, not due to someone else. I have put a passcode on all utility companies that I make payments to. Anything that has my personal information including my social security number will need this passcode before they can proceed with whatever the business is. Never again will another person control my finances or destroy them. Today, while not the best solution, I am able to begin again.
I do not make a ton of money. In fact, according to the statistics I fall in the poverty level. I believe because I choose to try and always do the right thing, all my needs are met. I have a roof over my head, I am employed, clothed, fed, and occasionally I even have the opportunity to splurge! Let me encourage you: Do not ever give up hope! Your circumstances may be overwhelming. It may seem as though nothing is going right. Hang on, dear one! Your story is unfolding before you. You made it through yesterday, you will make it through today. You will look back and realize that you are stronger than you thought you were, because you chose to do the right thing!
Phil 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all of your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (NLT)
Gal 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (NLT)