Saturday, April 9, 2011

When the Right Choice Isn't Easy

This is a little more personal than financial, but I really felt the need to post this today.

Few people know that my ex-husband and I tried to date each other after we were divorced. I think a lot of divorced/separated people go through that stage - the relationship is familiar and comfortable (and dysfunctional, but you don't see that at the time) and wouldn't it be so great if we could work things out and keep our family intact? He emailed me one day, probably 7 months after the divorce was final, and begged for another chance. I had tried dating and found that most single guys are on drugs, have a criminal history, or are actually married guys looking for someone on the side. I was over it. So, against my better judgment, I agreed that we could try one more time.

This happened right in the middle of the ex losing our marital home to foreclosure. He was staying with his parents, felt he'd lost everything, and he seemed very motivated to change some of the behaviors that led me to file for divorce. And he really did make an effort to change. Things were going great.

Until he moved into my house.

 At the end of last summer, the ex's parents decided they were tired of having their grown son living with them. They told him to get an apartment, which would have been great if he'd saved a single dime in the 6 months he stayed there. He called me in a panic, asking if he could stay at my house until payday, maybe 2 paydays at the most. I knew it would be much longer than that but didn't have the heart to say no. He literally had nowhere to go at that point.

The longer he stayed at my house, the more I remembered the reasons I divorced him in the first place. It wasn't about the way he treated me directly; it was a bunch of little things that screamed, "I'm selfish!" He works night shift, so he was at my house all day while I was at work and my son was at school. I would come home to dishes piled in the sink, junk lying everywhere, the trash can overflowing.... Just like old times. He offered several times to contribute toward the (now higher) utility bills, but if he did, he would run out of money and need to borrow from me until payday. Just like old times! He was also spending about $300 a month buying points for a game on Facebook. Real money on a stupid game, instead of saving money for a place to live! Keep in mind this was happening just when I decided to turn my financial life around.

I consider myself a fairly patient person. And I was, until he got his tax return. This was the moment I'd been waiting for - the time when he would finally have the money to put down deposits and get a place of his own. I was frustrated with him and realized there was no future for us; I was waiting for him to move out so I could move on. The day he got the check, I came home from work and found a receipt on the kitchen counter for a $400 handgun.

I lost it. Just like when we were married, he took money that was already designated for something important and wasted it on crap. When I confronted him, he gave all the excuses I'm used to:

"I had to pawn all my guns before the foreclosure. I really needed at least one. You know, for protection."

"I haven't been able to buy something for myself in a long time. I deserved it."

"It's only $400. I still have enough left to move out."

I told him he had two weeks to be out of my house. I didn't care if he had to live in an apartment without electricity! It was just time to go.

That was about a month ago. Since then, I'm happier than I've felt in ages. Last night the ex called to ask if he could come by to see our son. When he walked in the door I was shocked by how horrible he looked. He sat on my couch and burst into tears. He said all these wonderful things about how much he misses me, how miserable he is, how he'll do anything to have me back in his life. He misses me, he misses our life together, he can't live without me. And maybe I'm horrible, but all I heard was, "I'm broke and I know you have money in the bank. I need the freedom to make bad choices again."

Sending him home was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's difficult for me to see someone in pain knowing I caused them to feel that way. And I really do believe he was being honest. But I finally have goals in life for the first time, and I know I can't meet my goals if I continue any kind of relationship with him. Once I got to the breaking point in the marriage, I really was finished. The past 6 months have taught me that.

So now I move on with my life. A little guilty, but happily single and on the right track for the most part. Someday I may have room in my life for a relationship, but if I do, it will be with someone who shares the same goals I do and wants a partnership, not a mommy to clean up his messes.

I'm sharing this here because I want to be held accountable for this choice as well as the financial choices I make. I'm worth more than this and I'm determined to prove it.


Ashley @ Money Talks said...

You did the right thing. Nothing to feel guilty about. He made his choices.

wheresmomsmoney said...

Good for you for staying strong in an emotional and difficult situation! One thing you wrote struck me, "It's difficult to see someone in pain knowing I caused them to feel that way." I know it might feel that way but it sounds like HE caused HIMSELF to feel the pain he is in through his poor choices and decisions. You tried to offer a life of happiness but he didn't choose that. So try not to let him bring you down!

Andrea said...

Thanks to both of you for the supportive comments. I know 100% I made the best decision, but it's hard to be happy about it. However, I owe it to my son to live in a way that is secure and healthy for both of us.

$mart Mom said...

Good for you for standing up for yourself! I don't know you but I'm very proud of you. Like you, I'm a single mom, who went through the same "well maybe we could make this work" stage while my exa and I were separated. It is a hard stage to be in but you will get through it and when you do you'll see (as you are starting to now) that they don't really change and you are much, much better off and happier without whatever it is they do that brings you down. And definitely don't feel guilty. Sometimes people need "tough love" to straighten up and it sounds like he may be one of those people.

Perfect Dad said...

Holy Cow ... I've rarely heard of such lame people (your ex). I'm curious, how was he before? How does this drastic level of chronic and irresistible loser habits sneak up on a person?

I feel bad when I don't make my annual savings goals, if I were this guy I would feel so unbearable that I would have to change. To choose to buy a handgun and facebook points with his last dollars? To whine that he didn't have a chance to buy anything for himself?

Maybe he's mentally ill (for real, no insult, many homeless people are)...

It must be very liberating for you to be rid of him, sad yes because you're human and care about people. By the way, not all guys are on drugs or criminals or cheaters ... you should look outside the neighborhood drug dens :)

Andrea said...

@Perfect Dad - Unfortunately, this was the same behavior he exhibited throughout the marriage. Even though I was making a lot of mistakes myself, I don't feel I was ever at that level. I won't bore you with the long list of childhood issues that I think made him what he is, but I will say he had a workaholic father and a spendaholic mother - guess which one he took after?

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