4/4/19

Haunted (by) Houses




**This was a post I made in a private group. The feedback was notable so I thought I'd put it out here, you know, because it's important to know that we aren't alone in this messy life. For those who are new to this particularly cuckoo corner of the internet, here's a synopsis for ya: husband/father walked out and divorce was final in 2006. Funny thing, though, is it didn't really end in 2006. He left me with four kids, which was tough, but he also left me with a mountain of debt. Our little house, which was worth less than $100k, had been used to take out a few loans (home equity, second mortgage,golden parachute for him when he retired from our marriage, blah blah). I "got" the house in the divorce because I thought that was all I needed. The loans on the house exceeded $300k. I'd been a stay at home mom for the entirety of the marriage and raised the kids while he worked his way up the ol' corporate ladder. At the time he bolted, he was making decent money and I was awarded generous child support and spousal maintenance, which I had planned on using to pay off debts, finish school and get back to living life. He stopped all payments about a year into it. Cold turkey, all I got was a one-sentence email saying something like "i'm experiencing some difficulties so payments may be slow or stop completely." Turns out the difficulties were deciding which Audi to buy and also getting his pool fixed 😂 Anyway. He found the money for an attorney and somehow managed to get his child support obligation reduced to zero. I found a pro-bono attorney and for almost 6 years tried to get him to help take care of his kids. By the time "justice" was served (justice, it turns out, comes to about 19 cents on the dollar of what he owed), two of the kids were 18 or over, I'd lost our little house, had to file bankruptcy and my credit was shattered. No. Not shattered. It was like Thanos got a hold of it and *poof* it was ashes. Since then I have done what I could to keep things normal for the kids. I work full-time, was there 100% for my kids and now all four have graduated from high school and are either in college or working. Three of them live at home (two in college full-time) because they are trying to save money. They help out as much as they can. I pay almost $2k a month in rent, have paid in full and on time every month for 9 years. That's about as good a price you'll get here in Minneapolis for a rental house in a city that's close to busing, schools and our places of work (for real, you find a three bedroom house or townhome or apt in a first/second ring suburb of Minneapolis for less than $1500 a month that isn't made of cardboard and get back to me) . I'm 52. I'm a good mom, I think I'm a somewhat decent person and I represent a large swath of the United States population: those who are productive citizens, gainfully employed, living paycheck-to-paycheck. Every time I get a little bit tucked away into savings there is something that needs to be taken care of: one of our ancient cars breaks down, a tooth cracks, someone's tuition is due, we need heat in the winter (lol), etc. I am absolutely, 100% blessed to actually have some bootstraps to pull, but my arms are tired and on the day I saw this house and then came home and wrote this post, I was ragey and pms-ing and dammit I just needed to vent. ***EDIT*** since then, the amazing people in my group have rallied and donated and offered credit counseling help and names of realtors and just straight up loved and cheered and commiserated.I will do this, I swear on all that is good and holy- I will get a house and I will plant those gd lilacs. **

Warning: contains swears, angst, some wailing and minor gnashing of teeth

Ughhh you guys. I want to buy this house but there’s no way in hell I would qualify for any sort of loan because that mother effing bankruptcy and foreclosure are still showing up.

This is what I want to tell people who insist that I’m bitter. Who tell me to get over it, who shake their heads and say “I can’t believe you still think about this”. Who look at my ex, in his million dollar house, livin’ the dream and then at me, livin’ the nightmare of financial insecurity and terror over things like “where will I live when our sweet landlord gets smart and decides to sell?” and see nothing unfair or unjust.

“Jenny, he’s moved on. Why can’t you?”

Because every.single.day there is a reminder. Some days I’m SO GOOD at ignoring them. I line up my blessings and kiss them on the forehead as I count them. I laugh and curl up with the good fortune I do have and the reminders slink away.

But the houses. Shit. The houses, they won’t be ignored (I wonder if they sound like Glen Close 😂😂). They are structures built of possibilities and dreams. They are carnies calling out to me as I try my hardest to just keep walking, eyes focused on the sidewalk, the sky, anything but these homes. “Step right up! Feast your eyes on this little beaut! Too bad you can’t qualify for a gd thing, Jenny! This coulda been yours if only you’d made some better life choices! If only you’d ignored that tall asshole singing along to REM at the bar that night!” (it was The End of the World As We Know It, hahaha)(cry)

I lost the home my dad bought and remodeled with his own two hands thanks to my ex husband’s fuckery. A home that welcomed our new babies, that was framed with plants and trees we put into the ground with love, that kept us safe and warm through seasons of cold and rain. A home I had planned on living in for the rest of my life. Gone, because some dude couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.

People comfort me and say “aye you don’t want to own a home anyway, too much work and responsibility” but dammit I want that work and that responsibility. I really do. I want grass that’s mine and walls I can paint whatever color I want and a yard that is crying out for some lilacs and a little screened in porch. I want to stand outside at night, not in a creepy stalker way but you know, after hauling the garbage to the curb or something, and look in the windows and see glowing lights in a cozy living room that belongs to ME.

I want it and it’s not going to happen no matter how hard I try. And I know the day will come when my dog and I traipse past this one and the sign in the front yard will say “SOLD” and one more little sprig of excitement and hope will be crushed.

We’ve walked by so many of these houses and each time I’ve thought “augh I should just ask, I should just try” and then I remember that I have the credit of a ghost. A ghost who was so spectacularly screwed over that my credit, like my sense of self and the hope of ever truly, I mean- wholly-recovering, is irretrievably broken.

It’s not even that great, this house. That’s what I’m telling myself.


And I keep walking.



3 comments:

  1. If I had a dollar for every friend, co-worker, neighbor who got screwed over by an ex-husband, I would have, well a nice donation to give you!:o) You are definitely NOT alone and thanks for sharing so others know they aren't the only ones. xo

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  2. Your words bring joy and comfort to all those who were suckerpunched by their weak-ass leaving exes. Wish I could share all I know but this is a good start to get those gd lilacs planted! You can still buy a house with bad credit through HUD and the GNND program. https://www.sapling.com/5460848/buy-through-hud-bad-credit

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