So, here goes.
We had been married for about five or six years. Everything seemed to be going OK. I was still caught up in the novelty of motherhood and loved lavishing all my care and attention on to both of my children as they became little people in their own right with their own likes and dislikes.
Meanwhile, Ewan had started staying back later and later at the office and when he came back would he would hit the drink. The only time he seemed really relaxed was at the weekend when he would devote all his time and attention to the children.
I thought he was having an affair. I chose to let him get on with it rather than confront him. Our sex life was practically non-existent as I was constantly tired from juggling the demands of full-time work and motherhood. I knew if I made a scene, he would throw that in my face. He was behaving more and more like a guilty man though, unable to look me in the face or have a proper conversation with me as if he was scared he would give something away.
And then one day, on a whim, I wanted to know how much we had left to pay on our mortgage but I couldn't find the file in the usual place. When Ewan got home I asked him where it was and he lost his temper with me - something he has only done a handful of times through our marriage and this was probably one of the first occasions. He shouted that he was under a lot of stress at work and he didn't need me asking ridiculous questions as soon as he set foot through the door. He really went into one and I was quite scared so I just left it.
About a week later, I was getting ready to go away to Florida for work when the doorbell rang. Ewan had just popped out to get the newspaper and so I opened it to two men. They asked for Ewan and when I said he was out they introduced themselves and said they were enforcement officers and had come to take away the car as discussed with my husband. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and as I tried to argue with them, Ewan turned up and visibly turned green. He told me to go inside and I watched from the window as he spoke to them. And then they took his car away. Just like that.
By the time he came in I was in a bit of state, screaming to find out what was going on and he said very calmly that we were in trouble and that he needed to talk to me. It was completely the wrong time as the car had come to take me to the airport and I had to leave although I was terrified about what I was going to hear.
I don't know how I got through check-in but once I was in the departure lounge I called him and over the next half hour I heard how he had got involved with a private business deal that had gone wrong and resulted in the loss of a lot of money. It might just have been OK but then he was suddenly made redundant and he couldn't bring himself to tell me. He had been going out every day looking for work and though he had got some bits and pieces, it was never enough to meet all our outgoings. He then dropped the bombshell that we were six months in arrears with the mortgage and that there was a court hearing in a couple of weeks to start repossession proceedings. I sat there in that airport unable to comprehend what I was hearing. Hundreds of people were rushing by me and yet I felt so alone.
I spent the next few days in the States in a complete trance. I don't remember anything about it.
When I got back, I took charge, to his relief but I didn't really know what I was doing. He was feeling better because he had finally got it off his chest but I was sinking fast and yet trying to hold it together. I tried calling the bank but they wouldn't talk to me now that the hearing was in place.
Walking into the County Court that day was one of the worst moments of my life. I couldn't believe I was there. I had never imagined something like this could happen to me. I went in expecting the worst. I had visions that we would be thrown out onto the streets with nowhere to go.
As it happened, it was very civilised. The man that was there to represent the bank came to talk to us before our hearing and I told him that I had come to this late because my husband had been going through depression and hadn't been able to tell me what was happening but that now I knew, we were working together and I wanted to do anything to make it right. He said he wasn't there as an enemy and wanted to help. When we went in before the judge, he said that he had spoken to me and was confident that an agreement could be reached. So the judge suspended the repossession order on condition that we paid the arrears. He was so kind to us. I would never have imagined that they could both be so understanding.
It was a difficult few months then as we had to go cap in hand to anyone that needed money from us, to ask for help with payment plans etc. We took a loan to clear the arrears as I couldn't bear to have that sword hanging over us but in retrospect it was a foolish thing to do as we rushed into it and got a bad deal and we'll be paying it off for what seems like forever and I dread the time when interest rates will inevitably rise again.
It's taken a long time to get to a position where I feel anything like in control of our finances but I can't see a time when we won't be in debt. I now insist on knowing everything about our money and what he is spending etc even though he fully learned his lesson and would never do that again ...but I can't take the risk. I'm sure he feels demeaned by having to answer to me. Money is the thing we argue about more than anything.
I never told anyone, not even my parents. They may well have been able to help us out a bit but I couldn't bear for my mother to know what a failure I had been. Because that is how I felt ....feel...even though it was his mistake.
The first person I ever told was the therapist when it all came pouring out at that very first session. He said that what Ewan did was huge and that I have every right to be angry and distrustful all these years later but I'm not sure I agree. I feel responsible. What sort of wife was I that he felt he couldn't tell me what was going on?
I made a decision to be more supportive, to make him feel "safe". After all, problems do not go away - they must be worked through or else they remain a barrier to growth. And we did work through the crisis, but then we fell into a rut and now I feel as if he has almost forgotten what he did to me when he pulled that rug of security so suddenly from under my feet.
I think maybe I am resentful that having made his mistake, I have had to make sure I take on the strain of all things financial and that in turn, he feels resentful because I'm still doing that all these years later, when we are sort of back on track.
Maybe that is why I behave so badly. THREE affairs ??
All I know is, I will never forget that day the bailiffs came and how I felt when I first heard what deep shit we were in. It still makes me cry now....and then run to check the bank statements.
That's it. That's all it was. Not such a big deal when there are women being beaten by their men, or betrayed, or forced to live in real poverty. I need to get over it and stop feeling so sorry for myself.
Trouble is, it's easier said than done.
Cooking for One
2 weeks ago