I had to resort to selling everything of any value to keep afloat. My jewellery, household items. It was a desperate situation which at one point saw us being declared homeless by the local authority.
Yes. He is a wicked man. We were living on full benefits and on the verge of going to a homeless shelter. I couldn’t sleep. I was stick thin and I can only describe anxiety as like being on edge all the time and as either being totally high or totally low. There was no in between. I would be deliriously happy and feeling like I was winning or I would be so low that I could have stepped out in front of a car and ended it. Every penny counted. We literally lived hand to mouth. I couldn’t sleep. I was on Legal Aid for the divorce but this meant that I had to do loads of work to help my solicitor. I would very often be awake all night putting together bank statements etc. It was a full-time job, working out where the next penny would come from and how to fight his expensive legal team.
It was a Friday and the post arrived. There was a scary brown envelope. Most of the time it would take me days to pluck up the courage to open letters as I was so petrified that someone else would want money out of me. Money I didn’t have.
On this day, I opened the post and it was a letter from the Child Benefits Agency. “He” had applied for the child benefit and they had stopped the benefit until they decided who should have it. It may seem like a small amount, but that £130 was the months food shop and it was being taken away from me. I was panic stricken. The anxiety surged through me and actually took over my body and my brain. I felt sick and dizzy. I was under attack again. It was like being in a war situation with no ammunition, constantly trying to run from him. I had told him to leave after he had given me a black eye. He left with the words “You will be in the gutter! You will not get a penny out of me and I will take the children from you!”
I had already been told by a Barrister at one of the court cases that Child Benefit was paid to the parent who had the children registered at the same address as themselves for the doctors and dentist.
On this same day, I had received a message from “him” saying that he was taking our son to the dentist. The dentist was our friend. The husband of one of my oldest and closest friends (saying that, my friend had hardly been in contact since I had told her I was getting divorced, but she may have had her own life issues at that time). I don’t know what came over me at that moment, but I can only describe it as “sheer terror”. My husband had registered the children at the dentist under HIS address. I knew that this may mean that he would get our food money! I had to work quickly. I was under fire again. I had to save us from going hungry.
My friend and I went a long way back and I knew one of her biggest secrets. She was Sikh and had dated a guy with different religious beliefs for many many years.
She has always told me that her parents would go absolutely mad if they found out about her lover and this could even lead to them and the entire family disowning her. She didn’t get married until she was mid 30’s and she finished the relationship with this man when the pressure from her family to settle down became too much. I remember when she was going on holiday with this man, I would go to her parent’s house in my car with a suitcase in the boot pretending to her parents that my friend and I were going away together. She would jet off to Dubai with her secret lover.
What I did next was just completely out of character.
I texted my friend and told in no uncertain terms that she had to tell her husband that he was not allowed to see my children ever again. I then threatened her and said that if she didn’t get her husband to put MY ADDRESS on my children’s records, then I would tell her husband and family that she had dated a man who had had the “wrong religion”.
Terrified.. she texted back and told me that she had actually told her husband everything a few years back as her evil Sister had found out about the past and had told her husband. Her husband texted me to say that I was an awful person. I agree. I was and that was that. The friendship was over. Looking back, there was nothing much lost anyway. I had been going through absolute hell for over and year and they didn’t step anywhere near me!
I had been left homeless with my children by this man. I had been physically attacked.. but they didn’t know any of that because they hadn’t reached out.
In the end, he got 50% of the child benefit. It took the agency 5 months to come to the decision. “He” maintains that he didn’t apply for it, that he was just awarded it out of the blue (he even told the court that while he was under oath), but I have letters saying “your husband has counter applied for the child benefit”.
I suffered with anxiety for around 2 years. My heart would always be beating extra fast and I think I must have burnt calories at a super fast rate. I always felt like I was on a treadmill.
I am sure people must have thought I was on drugs. I couldn’t concentrate and my brain was spaghetti. All mixed up in knots. I would just react without thinking. Always ready for the next attack. Ready to defend myself. I would get really angry with those closest to me like my new partner.
Slowly, slowly, things have settled down and I am proud that I have never been given any medication for depression. I know that the feelings I had were just part and parcel of the situation I was in. I have learnt to “go with the flow” with my now ex-husband. I try and think before acting. I don’t react to his gaslighting texts. I write a reply and then put my phone down, think and delete. I know that the best way to piss him off is to be silent and not react. I imagine him bright red and furious at my non-reaction.
I am no longer anxious about the future I am EXCITED!
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.