Divorce is always messy – amicable or not. There are nasty fights over children and property which whether you like it or not can turn ugly. For me, my divorce was far from amicable. I tried hard to get along with my ex-husband but after 10 years of marriage, I reached my limits. All I wanted was to get away from him but he had other plans.
“You think you can embarrass me by filing for a divorce?” He asked. “I’ll use all my power to make sure you get nothing.”
I expected this from him. Apart from being an abusive, narcissistic man, my ex was a senior lawyer who was quite influential in the legal world. This is why I didn’t ask for anything in my divorce. I didn’t want any property or child support. I simply wanted to be a free woman. Nonetheless, he used all his power and influence to oppress me when we were going through the divorce process.
He even convinced the judge that I was a bad mother and that I couldn’t care for my children. As a result, he got custody of my children and I was only given visitation rights. He also took all the property we had amassed during our marriage. I had to start from scratch after the divorce. However, this was only the beginning of my hell. I thought that after the divorce, I would be free from my ex-husband’s harassment. He was just getting started.
I had saved a little in my local chama but when I tried to get a loan to start a business, I was told that I was not eligible for one since I didn’t have a guarantor or property. My ex-husband had threatened members of the Chama which made them scared to be my guarantor.
“I want to help you, Suzy.” The chair lady of the Chama started, “But your husband told us not to guarantee you or we’d get deregistered as a Chama.”
“I understand,” I answered.
“We’ll figure it out though.”
I never heard from any of them since that day and all my attempts to even withdraw the money I saved were futile. Broke and tired, I went back to my village to stay with my mother. It was one of my hardest decisions since my mother was a farmer. I had to sell some of my clothes, jewellery, and shoes to afford bus fare and shopping for her. When I got there, I had only a small handbag and shopping bag with me.
My family didn’t know about the divorce since it happened fast. Not even my brother who lived in the US knew. Everyone just assumed I wanted to stay in the village. However, a month later, they started to suspect something was wrong.
“When is Henry bringing the children?” My mother asked.
“Next weekend,” I answered knowing very well I hadn’t talked to him for over a month.
The reason that I was in the village was to get as far away from him as possible. Since he knew all my friends in the city, I couldn’t stay at their place anymore. He had called all of them and made up all kinds of lies about me accusing me of trying to kill him, steal from him, and sleep with his friends.
“He said you tried to kill him,” One of them said when I asked whether she could house me for a short time.
After a few phone calls, I knew my reputation was done and I had to rebuild my life somewhere else.
I finally confided in my brother and he was more than supportive. Though he couldn’t get through to my ex, he tried his best to help where he could. He referred me to one of his old friends who had a business in the area. I went to meet him and instantly recognized him.
“Sam?” I asked somewhat embarrassed.
Sam had pursued me relentlessly when we were young but I rejected him every time. To me, he was a local boy who had no bright future. However, I was happily surprised by his achievements.
“Pretty Suzy, how are you?” He asked as he welcomed me with a warm hug.
“I’m good,” I answered.
“Great. It’s been a while.”
There was a long, awkward silence.
“So, you’re looking for a job.”
“Yes. I don’t have a degree but I have experience running a business so I can help with that.”
“No problem. Just come in tomorrow and we can talk about the rest.”
His phone rang shortly after that and he excused himself. I left the office feeling a bit humiliated. Sam had been exceptionally kind to me despite how I treated him in the past. However, I didn’t have the luxury to reject the job. I showed up the next day early in the morning and found Sam already in his office. He hired me as his secretary and I started my work.
Things were starting to look up but I still had unhealed wounds from my messy divorce. I constantly thought about my children. After two months of working for Sam, we started to grow close. He asked me out on a lunch date to officially welcome me to the business.
While on the date, I let it slip that I had been through a divorce and that was the real reason I was back in the village. I opened up about all the issues I had been through with my ex while Sam lent me a sympathetic ear. He couldn’t do much but he encouraged me to fight back for my children. He also offered to hire a lawyer for me who could help. After almost a year of going through a messy divorce and feeling like I had hit rock bottom, that simple lunch date brought me back to life. I felt hopeful again and it was all thanks to someone I didn’t expect would come through for me.
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