This is part 2 of how this blog came into being. You can catch up on part 1 here.
As I sat in the empty house alone, I was so close to jumping in my car and using the remaining quarter-tank of diesel to get to Beachy Head (see inset picture) to jump off and end it all that it still scares me today. The one thing that kept me from doing it was my mum.
I used to have a fantastic relationship with my natural parents, but since getting married in 2005, both relationships had taken a tumble. It wasn’t that I loved them less, it was just visiting them would cause arguments with my wife. In the end, it was easier to not visit. This sounds terrible now, but it made sense at the time; I don’t think I actually spoke to my dad for almost 2 years towards the end of my marriage. What kind of son did that make me?
Mum kept in contact by text message, and I’d pop round in secret occasionally, while my wife slept. When I told my mum where I was on that cold winter day: practically homeless, a marriage in tatters, up to my eyeballs in debt and wondering about the purpose of life, she saved me there and then. “Come home, you’re always welcome here”.
And that’s what I did. I boxed up the few possessions I had, and moved back home.
My mum and step-father made me visit a solicitor a few days later to discuss my divorce and my financial matters. As it was I didn’t know how much I owed, to whom, or on what terms. All I knew was that according to my wife, I never earned enough and I was always in my overdraft not long after being paid. This was always a shock; I’d work more and more overtime to try and get ahead, and always end up with the same result. One month I cleared almost £3,000 after tax, yet still kept falling backwards.
Perhaps I should have taken charge, demanded to see my account for myself, but I didn’t have any reason to believe what my wife was saying was anything but the truth. Marriage is about trust, after all.
It was only after I moved back in with my mum that I cracked open a small pile of bank statements I’d found while moving out, checked online banking, got to grips with my credit card bills and loans that I managed to take stock. I owed personally, just over £15,000. Fifteen thousand pounds. That was a massive shock. But, by all accounts I was in a better position than of my wife; it seems she must therefore have owed £35,000 if our joint was somewhere around the £50,000 mark. But the true horror came as I discovered for the first time why, despite being on good incomes, we were so immensely in debt.
My wife was an online gambler. I knew she played the odd bingo card online, but I didn’t know the precise level of her play. It appeared that when she had emptied her account she’d start on mine, or vice versa. I was finding hundreds upon hundreds of pounds leaving my account to various gambling-related websites month in, month out. When we didn’t have any money left, she’d use my credit rating to get loans and credit cards to top us up. And so it continued and continued until both our paychecks were going on servicing interest payments and nothing else. No wonder our relationship failed, in hindsight.
And worst of all, until that point, I didn’t know why it had failed.
So, on advisement, I registered my separation with my solicitor in January 2009 and began divorce proceedings. It hurt to do it, but felt good at the same time.
The first positive, forward step I had taken in my life for a very long time.
Continue to Part 3…