There are so many steps to take when getting out of a toxic relationship, especially when it’s gone on for nearly 20 years, and two children are involved.
For me, the hardest – and first – was finally realizing that what I considered normal was actually a distorted, unhealthy reality that I could no longer tolerate for myself, or the kids.
So it was time to consider my options. This was hard. I was settled, and although I knew I didn’t want to be around the ex, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want my kids to have to move. I didn’t know what would happen with my job and was reluctant to give up all the activities which rooted us in the community.
I did understand that careful planning was necessary, and equally important was… money.
It took me a couple of years to figure out what to do and how, but when I was able to finally get the ex to physically leave the house, I was emotionally ready to move on.
“I’m free!” I thought, until papers were filed, and all hell broke loose.
The next year was full of nonstop legal battle, as well as approximately $100,000 in bills, which I will be paying back for decades. I looked forward to the day that I’d finally get the divorce, which I believed would guarantee an easier, more peaceful existence. How wrong I was!
Soon after papers were signed, I was back in the legal system, where I have remained: more than seven years have passed since the beginning of my trying to get away from this monster.
How could this be?
Well, after quickly learning that my ex was no ally and he became a “deadbeat dad,” I devoted my life to ensuring that he adhered to the divorce agreement.
If he refused to be emotionally supportive and present for our kids, the least I could do was hold him financially responsible.
I speedily learned to prepare for more war in court, and, having no money to spend, took him head-on myself.
I am now a veteran of the legal system; in less than three years, I have had more than 50 court appearances in two states, while largely representing myself (“pro se”).
And despite having no degree in law, with outside help and support, I have been able to rack up countless successes in the courtroom against a slew of lawyers whose behavior has mirrored that of my sociopathic ex, and judges who couldn’t care less.
I have not only saved at least half a million dollars in legal fees, but have learned how strong and articulate I can be when required.
I have discovered how to stand up for myself – not just against a toxic ex-husband, but an entire family court system that largely allows abusive behavior to take center stage.