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“You have to go down before you go up”

These were the wise friends from a friend when I started divorce proceedings, and OMG did I go down and ‘he’ – ‘the ex’ wanted me to.
He left because I told him to. After 14 years of him being controlled by his family who lived abroad, I had had enough. I had spent years arguing with him on and off about how we should be financially independent, but he was controlled by his Mother as she was wealthy. In turn, he controlled me and there was never any liaising with him, He was always right. He had to have his own way at all times.
The problem in the relationship was always his lack of work ethic. I was from a middle-class working background and he was from a wealthy upbringing and just had no reason to work. It was almost as though he thought he was above working. He worked for his Mother who has a portfolio of properties abroad and she paid him by way of financial gifts for at least 15 years. I knew it wasn’t right, but then it was family money so why not? It wasn’t a situation I was familiar with and believe me, money does not bring happiness. His family were very aggressive towards each other and I even saw his Father with his Mother up against the wall by her throat on one occasion.
Sometimes his Mother would argue with my ex and she would simply turn off the money and we would be stuck, but most of the time, the money flowed in, until that fateful day when I had had enough of not having a voice within the home and being mentally (and on a couple of occasions physically) abused.
Something in my mind snapped that day. “Get out get out! You have to get out!” I screamed. He didn’t seem too bothered actually and in hindsight I wonder whether he had been intentionally more difficult for a year or so, to make sure I did at some point tell him to leave. He could then be the “victim” and run away. Into the arms of someone else? I am not sure.
I immediately filed for divorce with a local solicitor but just a month into it and a few letters sent and my bill was at £2000! It was then that I realised I couldn’t afford a lawyer. I had also started to realise that this man, who I had called my husband really meant it when he said he would make sure I didn’t have a penny to my name. He had always told me that if I ever left him, he would make sure I had no money, no home and in turn the children would be taken away from me. My only saving grace with the children was that he had done something rather stupid when I’d asked him to leave and this meant that he wasn’t able to see the children without supervision until he supplied the court with a Psychological Report.
It took many attempts to get this report. I was always the Respondent in these cases, so he was taking me to court for access.

The first court case was him telling the Judge that he had a letter from a Psychotherapist but it was in the post. Then he took me to court again and still didn’t have a letter. The Judge told him in no uncertain terms that he was not to bring me back to court for access until he was able to give to the court what he has been asked for. That was a warning sign for me. How could he go to court and try and wiggle out of a court order? Did he really think that the Judge would just accept his excuses as to why he didn’t have the appropriate report? He had done something wicked in front of the children and the Judge, CAFCASS and I all needed to delve into his mental state and see who he was and ensure he would not be a danger to the children. He is not a physical danger to the children (although I am never 100% certain but I have had to let those thoughts go and hope that the experts are right) but I know that emotionally he affects them. I deal with the fallout when they are with me. He’s just a loser and it’s hard for the children as their friends Dads are all hardworking, career minded Men.  

Blurry. That’s the only way I can describe that year when he didn’t see the children.

  He abandoned us. He refused to give me any money towards the children. He didn’t care. In his mind it was all my fault. He even told me that the children would have to live a shit life because I had asked him to leave. He believed that was how things should be. In his mind and it’s still like this, when the children are with me, he believes that the children should live a crap life. He plays the victim with them and describes me to the boys as “evil”. The children tell me that their Dad says I “threw him onto the street”, but they know the truth. He threw them onto the street. I discovered that he wasn’t paying the rent, so we had to get out of the house.  

I literally had to sell and give away the contents on the drive-way. He probably thought it was humiliating for me but it wasn’t. It was a job which needed doing and was therapeutic.

Friends helped and told me that it was just ‘historical crap.’ Wedding presents, the children’s beds, furniture, their toys. They were so brave. Maybe they were as stunned and as shocked as me. I couldn’t shelter them from what was going on. It was horrific. Truly awful and that is all etched on their minds. Strangers were crawling around the house and I am sure that things were stolen. I got to a point where I didn’t care.  

Our next home was half of a garage. It was supposed to be Airbnb accommodation but it was disgusting.

It has no windows and reeked of petrol fumes. I taped the internal doors which led to the main garage to try and stop the smell. We arrived with what we had left, just a few clothes and a sofa, a few glasses and plates. We couldn’t put anything into storage as I had no money for that. The owner of the garage said that we could only stay there for three months as it wasn’t really suitable for me and two children. Our next move was to a homeless shelter. Still I begged and pleaded with my ex-husband to help but all he did was reply “stop harassing me or I will call the police.” I called his family (where his income had always come from, but they blocked my calls).  

My Father was dying of Cancer so I didn’t tell my parents much about what was going on. I tried to just get on with it all on my own. I was also amazed by the number of so-called friends who backed off. My family didn’t come to my rescue either. I guess what they had seen was a very wealthy couple and they could not compute that suddenly I was on the streets. I think they thought I was exaggerating. My ex, always the charmer. How could he possibly put his wife and children thorough this? Also, I regard myself as strong and maybe I should have asked for help? Part of me sometimes wondered if I should just stay with his violent and aggressive behaviour?  

Our next stop, in December 2016, was a homeless shelter. My local borough council had no housing for us, so that was our only option. Picture this; my ex living with handouts from his wealthy family and me and our two children aged just 6 and 9 going to a shelter. I pleaded to my ex too many times and I was visited by the Police and issued with a PIN notice. It was on a Sunday morning and the children were screaming with fear. They thought that I was going to be taken and away and they would be left with no parents. Why would a Father do that? My only answer is that he is a wicked evil man. The police were actually great and told me that they thought he was a bit crazy and just to not contact him at all as he was clearly unstable. They said that Fathers do not usually report Mothers for sending texts. They either block the other party or ignore. The Police really didn’t need to be involved. Him playing the victim again.  

From the time my ex left, for around 18 months I would regularly receive letters from Child Services saying that my husband had reported me for being a bad Mother. That was stressful in itself. The letters would always say that they were not pursuing the claims, but the fact that he was allowed to report me that many times just shows how the system can be used to abuse innocent people. Emotionally abused via the service which was supposed to be protecting us. At least all of his calls are recorded.  

I had no money for legal help until I was approached by a local lady who said that I might be able to get legal aid. I was, by this time on full benefits (I have never received benefits in my life and I felt terrible taking from the state). I called the solicitor and to cut a very long story short, after 7 months of trying I was awarded legal aid. I felt jubilant! Finally I was going to be helped. I had represented myself in court on a few occasions and it was actually not as bad as I had thought… the Judges are really very good at explaining things in layman’s terms. I would have been happy to carry on with Litigant in Person if it hadn’t been for the complicated international aspect.  

I tried to stay positive. I don’t know how I didn’t ever break, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

I couldn’t rent a house as I had no credit rating, but a friend went to a local estate agent and paid a year of rent up front for us. I was able to pay him back out of my housing benefit. That was the first point in a year where I felt that the children and I were safe and warm and were “on the up”.   There are many charities which claim to help women in my situation, leaving abuse etc., but in my experience, they didn’t help at all. Each charity seemed to just palm me off to another charity. The GP said that I didn’t need counselling, I was just suffering from severe anxiety because of the situation. He said that when the situation changed, my anxiety would go, but when was that going to happen? I definitely didn’t want to go onto any kind of medication. I fought my way through by reading books and articles and becoming knowledgeable. Just because you have legal aid doesn’t mean things get much better. The solicitor hardly ever answered calls or emails and I probably used her as an outlet for my suffering. Long emails. I am sure she just had to hit delete as to read them would have taken my case over the budget. I felt very lonely at times. Everyone just getting on with their lives or friends getting divorced but their exes doing the right thing by their children. I had to always understand that my ex wasn’t “normal”. He’s a psycho of some kind. I would always refer back to the report to feel better, to know that it wasn’t me.  

I attended the job centre when required and looked for work. I did a few jobs for myself here and there and educated myself in various things. I now use these skills to work. It was not time wasted. I would stay up all night preparing legal cases for the children and finance matters. I would drink a lot of wine.  

Narcissist book recommendations  

My evil ex got 50:50 shared care of the children because I buckled under the pressure. He came to court armed with a team of expensive lawyers. My Father had died the month before. That was a time when I felt emotionally broken. The CAFCASS Officer on the day said that I was the better parent but recommended that he see the children. Even though he obviously didn’t care about the children (or he would have furnished the court with his report quickly!) he had changed his case from ‘access’” to ’50:50 shared care or Sole Custody’ and was playing the card that as I had no money to look after the children and he was wealthy, he could win the case and provide for them in a better way.  

His psycho report mentioned the words narcissist and vivacious histrionic. I was petrified that he could win them fully and lose my children. I guess it was anxiety. So, he got them 50:50. I no longer regret this decision as I can now work and be the better parent. I can see that the children have no respect for him at all. They think he’s a joke. They see me working to provide and they will never forget what we all went through together. The three of us. They still speak about the garage and being homeless and my eldest knows that when he rang his uninterested Grandma abroad, she didn’t speak and just blocked his call. They lived through what happened and my ex can try and manipulate their memories but they will never forget what he did.  

What they remember is so vivid and strong, they will never forget the pain and heartache and Mummy crying herself to sleep in the one double bed we all had to squeeze into.

He’s no Father. I know what they look like. My Father was a worker and never in a million years would he have left my Mother with nothing. Real Fathers care and nurture their children. He is a true narcissist. His psycho report shed a light on my whole marriage and especially the part where the psychologist said that to the highest level she had ever seen, he could not accept he was wrong about anything. I felt that the report was closure for me, clarification that I wasn’t crazy in what I was thinking. I am better away from him and in the not too distant future the children will be able to choose too. I think they will use him purely for their own financial gain and I won’t blame them. The only thing he will have to offer them is money. When they are Fathers themselves, they will know what having children feels like and know that they could never do that to their own flesh and blood.  

Move through 12 months, he applied for half my child benefit when I had no money for food and got awarded it! (again, he didn’t care about the money being used for food for the children – it was all about getting at me, he made false accusations about me to the police which again came to nothing as there was no evidence as nothing happened, and even now he constantly tries to gaslight me using the boys and situation to try and get to me.  

He has a woman in his life now (poor cow) and when I see him, I feel on top of the world as he looks like a really horrid person.

I don’t know what I ever saw in him. Probably his fake charm. Telling him to go has been the worst journey of my life but I am now at my destination of true happiness.  

Life is good! Never give up. You cannot go lower than the lowest point. At some point you have to start coming up again and then, with a positive attitude you can rise higher than you have ever been. Good luck!

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