Nobody was more shocked than me when my marriage fell apart. Everyone thought we'd be together forever.
I think that's because on the outside everything looked perfect but it wasn't perfect. I know now that how a couple is when you see them doesn't mean everything is okay.
We'd been having problems for a few years, mostly because of money. When we first met he had all these big plans to start his own business and we had our kids and I thought I might be able to work a bit less as his business took off.
But that never happened. I had to work all through my pregnancy and then when the kids were little. I feel like I missed out on so much.
20 years after we had our first child I had started my own business and it was going really well, and his wasn't.
I did everything I could to help him, taking over the managing of the money side of things but it never made much money and when I took over there were a lot of outstanding invoices I had to figure out how to pay.
I guess the resentment built up for me, that I had spent the best years of my life making all the money and raising our kids and he seemed to resent me back for making all the money and for commenting on how little he helped with the kids.
I told him I wanted a divorce and he said he wanted the same thing and moved out straight away. The kids were upset but I just felt relieved. I felt hopeful. I felt like I could build my future and not use all the money I made to keep his business afloat.
But that was really naive. Nothing was over. If anything, the battle over money was just beginning. He hired a lawyer really quickly and demanded a huge part of 'our' assets which he had really contributed nothing towards. I felt like I had achieved everything despite him and so I hired a lawyer and it got really, really nasty.
Neither of us wanted to give an inch.
Family court can be a frustrating process. Even though it was clear we weren't going to come to terms when it came to money they kept forcing us back into mediation, to a point my lawyer became just as frustrated as me.
I wanted to go to court and fight for what I saw as mine. As the main breadwinner in our marriage I knew I'd have to pay my ex something and anything felt like too much, but my lawyer helped me realise it was the price I was going to have to pay for my freedom.
Two-and-a-half years later and we got a court date but then it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. When we tried to reschedule, yes, you guessed it, we were told to go back into mediation.
I wanted to cry. I just couldn't go through that again. I had made what I thought was a generous offer and he kept on asking for more and more and more and he was just doing it to punish me.
In October last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found the lump in the shower during a self-exam that I had done because my aunty had also recently been diagnosed with cancer, but not breast cancer.
It was stage one but I felt so scared of leaving this world and my kids and everything I had built. But also I felt scared that I would have waste even more years of my life fighting over money.
I didn't tell my ex about the cancer but instructed my lawyer to make him an even more ridiculously generous offer and he accepted it. The only good thing about it was that I gave him so much money there would be no ongoing payments to me. That was the only part that felt like a win.
He may be taking all the money I had earned but I was free. Aside from the kids there were no ties between us, and I knew I'd be able to make the money back because my business was still going really well and I trusted my staff to keep it running smoothly during my treatment.
I try not to think about the money I have lost. I try not to feel resentful anymore. I just try to look forward and tell myself everything is going to be okay because I will make sure of it.
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