At the end of my post “There is love and there is blinded by love” I asked if any of my readers had stories to tell that could help other people. The following is the first of two true stories that I hope will be a valuable lesson learned in the pitfalls of relationships.
Swept Off My Feet
Many years after being co-workers, I crossed paths with a man who became a life-lesson for being blinded by love. At that surprise reunion, he literally swept me off my feet. He picked me up and swung me around with what seemed like intense joy at seeing me again. Who wouldn’t be thrilled at such a grand and romantic gesture? Well, it was the first of many romantic gestures that hooked and blinded me from seeing the real man, his true personality and his big financial/legal problems.
It felt so good to be adored and cherished that, naturally, I fell in love quickly. Looking back, I can never be sure if he loved me too (or was capable of it), but he sure put on a convincing act. There were weekly bouquets of roses with lovely notes. We were joined at the hip and spent most of our days together. He was warm and friendly to my family and friends. It was a blissful time.
It was also exciting that he was rushing me into marriage because he wanted me to be his wife. And, you guessed it, there was no prenuptial agreement. It’s not that it didn’t cross my mind, but it was clear he was offended by the idea and I didn’t want to alienate him. Plus, at that point I hadn’t noticed any red flags. He had a secure job in the public sector. He had a house in which I thought he had equity (as it turned out, he did not).
The Turning Point
Before he and I married, I owned a lovely and affordable home. He convinced me to sell that, move to a more impressive neighbourhood and pay top dollar for our first shared home (which turned out to be a money pit). Then there was a succession of moves and different homes, during which time he also encouraged the alienation of my friends and family. Next it was a failed business venture, which used my retirement savings and a loan against my future inheritance.
It was only after we were married that I discovered my husband’s credit rating was so poor that he couldn’t be approved for credit cards. Since that didn’t seem like a practical way to run our household, I agreed to add him to my bank account, credit card and line of credit. As a modern woman, I reasoned that sometimes it would be the wife’s role to be the main breadwinner in the marriage.
Throughout our married years, our debts kept mounting, even though I was making regular payments to our line of credit and Mastercard. Somehow it always seemed like one step forward and two steps back. Unbeknownst to me, every time I made a payment, my husband would make big cash withdrawals from those same accounts. The credit limits were always maxed out, my bank accounts were always in overdraft and I felt like a caged animal. It was so overwhelming that I had to accept three contractual loans from my Mother. Although I made payments to her whenever I could spare it, that was rare. It was so humiliating. After my Mother passed away, the loans were deducted from my share of her estate. Rather than it being a legacy for my personal enjoyment, most of the inheritance went towards paying off the non-consensual debts of my husband, which he had accrued against accounts in my name.
You may rightly wonder how my husband got away with exploiting our credit accounts for as long as he did. Back then, it wasn’t common to check financial accounts online, so my husband was easily able to withdraw cash from my accounts and blow it all on gambling and illegal street drugs. Then he would retrieve and hide the monthly bank statements from our mailbox. Meanwhile, I was busy with the stress of work and was never really interested in financial matters, so I let him take over that area. He had computer skills and kept spreadsheets to convince me that he was managing our money and that our finances were in good shape.
I won’t even go into the avalanche of lies and excuses he used to hide his parasitic activity when it came to my money and credit. When I discovered the whole truth, I kicked him to the curb and out of my life forever. What remained, however, was my depleted retirement fund, a work pension to split with him, and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt racked up by my husband. That debt was my legal responsibility because I had co-signed for his access to my credit accounts.
Instead of being retired years ago, I am still working to make ends meet. As for my estranged husband, well, in the typical style of an alleged con-man, he went ‘underground’ without paying any of the debt and now he is making it difficult to establish contact in order to settle the pension and the divorce.
Any woman who has been targeted by an alleged sociopath will feel intense shame and self-blame for allowing herself to be used. However, her emotional self-healing depends on acceptance of her role in the relationship, even though she was unaware at the time. The next steps are self-forgiveness and a plan to recognize and choose only honest people to be in her life.
This is my opportunity to make something good come out of a really bad experience. It is an uplifting moment for me because there is hope that my story will rescue or spare someone else from financial and emotional harm. I believe I can be a positive life-changer in that regard. This gesture of sharing the truth also serves to erase my negative past and allows me to start over with a clean slate and 20/20 vision for my future.
[Authorized by Susan E.,Winnipeg, MB. Written by Kate W.]
Regardless of your past, tomorrow starts with a clean slate.