The Most Expensive 5 Years Of My Life

This month, if all goes as planned, my divorce will be finalized. It’s going to cost me about $10,000, give or take a thousand.

Divorce in dictionary

I never expected to have to spend that much on this divorce. When we first agreed to separate, there were a few minutes where we spoke logically and soundly with each other about things like custody and visitation and separating our belongings. We talked about appropriate and reasonable amounts of money for child support and though we didn’t totally agree immediately, it seemed like we might be able to eventually. I felt hopeful that we could stay out of court and keep the costs, both financial and otherwise, to a minimum – as minimum as it gets in an event that rips your life apart.

Well about 5 minutes later, my husband rushed out to as many bars as he could find after supposedly being sober for about 20 months, and all bets of sound, logical, mutual agreements were off.

Divorce strips you of everything. Even though it was the healthier choice for me and my sons, and even though I have no doubts that this is the right decision, divorce by its very nature destroys people.

You lose your partner (assuming that’s what you had), your dreams, your sense of belonging, your sense of safety and trust-both in yourself and others, your direction, your purpose, your sanity, and your money. To name a few.

These past 5 years with my husband have been the most expensive years of my life.

When we first met, I was completing my undergrad degree. I was in the middle of a divorce from my first husband and though I was broke in real life; I’d gotten a small settlement from my divorce. My now almost ex-husband saw that as an opportunity and I quickly became his sugar mama.

He did it sneakily and I never really noticed that I was paying for so much. We’d go out and he’d say, “Can you just put this on your card?” And being the sick, lost, co-dependent little mess that I was, I agreed.

I wanted to meet him where he was. I wanted him to see that I was a caring, loving woman who had his back in hopes that he’d do the same for me. So I paid for things. I bought his alcohol. I took care of him. I bought his groceries. I cooked him food and bought him meals. I paid to take him places. I put gas in his car. I acted like his mom because his wasn’t really present.

After I graduated, I went to Graduate school immediately and that put us in a long distance relationship. I had student loans for grad school and I was working part-time. So I had a little bit of available money and rather than being smart with it, I used it to support myself and my boyfriend’s alcoholism.

I drove the 2 hour drive to see him every single weekend because he couldn’t carve out the time to make it up to me most of the time. I paid some of his bills when he couldn’t. I picked up all the bar tabs each weekend. I paid off one of his loans. And I paid for all my own expenses of living in DC…which was A LOT!

My loans that year paid for my school but they mostly paid for my boyfriend’s lifestyle. We blew through $40,000 of student loan money in 1 year.

Saying that all now makes me sick. I’m not asking for sympathy on those choices because they were dumb and very misguided. I get that. Nonetheless, they were expensive choices. Expensive choices I am still very much paying for.

As the years went on, things got even more expensive.

Marrying an alcoholic really sets you up for a lot of dirty duty. You’re the constant cleaner upper of all their poor decisions. You don’t have to be if you’re someone with boundaries and self-respect, but since at the time I was in a severe deficit of those things, I fell into the enabler trap hard-core. And it cost me everything.

I spent the next years feeling like I was just cleaning up someone else’s messes all the time and somehow being punished for it in my own life. He never seemed to have any consequences. It was always me. It still feels that way.

So between the loans and the credit card that everything got placed on-to include my own wedding ring which I bought for myself, along with his poor financial decisions and a period of constant buying, selling and trading of things like cars and guns behind my back, we racked up a pretty big financial debt.

Of course the debts weren’t all financial. In fact, the heaviest debts were the non-financial ones.

It’s the emotional debts that seemed to cost the most over the years.

The constant hits to my self-worth. The endless nights of worry and fear for whether or not my spouse would come home or if I’d get a phone call at 2 am saying something bad had happened. The fights that always ended in blame and manipulative twists to make everything my fault. The emotionally abusive comments and the daily striving to not step on the wrong hole of this land mine I lived in.

And bigger than all those things, it was my heart that was the most expensive. All my love, all my worth, all my effort, all my time. He had it all. But he didn’t really want any of it. So he used it up. He took it all and kept the useful parts to himself and threw the rest away.

I poured everything I had into him. And he took it all. 5 years and too many thousands to name, here I stand. Emotionally and financially bankrupt.

BUT, not entirely.

This relationship has cost me more than I ever imagined in my wildest nightmares. But it’s also given me more than I ever could have dreamed.

I spent a long time not understanding or seeing my value. I cheapened myself to match what I thought I deserved. And it cost me too much. But after all that I paid in, I realize now I am in no way walking away empty-handed.

It may have cost me nearly $100,000 or more to find it, but I finally know who I am. I finally know what I’m worth.

Knowing that I am enough and I am worthy is a priceless gift. So for that, every dime was worth it.

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20 thoughts on “The Most Expensive 5 Years Of My Life

  1. Sometimes it takes so many hits-financial and emotional-before we see who we really are. My heart aches for all the pain you have endured-some which is all too familiar-but, you have endured! And, on this your other side, is such beautiful, amazing strength! Thank you for always being so real with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are definitely a true inspiration to Mothers out here. Reading your blogs are truly an inspiration to me. You are a wonderful Mother to three very handsome boy’s who one day will be so glad to say that you raised them to be the men that they will grow up to be one day in life & it will all be thanks to you 🙂 You truly deserve a pat on your back for being the amazing woman you are today. God Bless You!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your writing. I can almost relate to a tee the things that’s he’s done to you and the way you feel about him and your children. I just got out of an emotionally and physically toxic, abusive relationship. It wasn’t always this way only off and on when drugs came into play. I’ve been sober for 2 years now. And my children’s father thought the birth of our second child was a perefct time to relapse. So that was it, that was the last time I enabled him to do drugs with us in his life. He left on the 3 rd day of my daughters life in this world after He was up for those 3 long days and nights not one wink of sleep, He emotionally tore me down while I was trying to recover from a c section and said horrible things to me and my 4 year old son, he hit my son and I said enough and made him leave. He pushed me down and walked away. We haven’t seen him for over a month now and he has a New girlfriend who’s probably pregnant and I’m praying to the fates that he doesn’t try to see my children. He doesn’t deserve their unconditional love or innocence. Drugs and alcohol are the route of all evil..


  4. It takes us breaking out of that darkness to recognize what it was. You have done this as a young mother…it took me until mid 40’s. With your degrees in hand, your boundaries in place, and your precious boys by your side; you are in for a life of love beyond belief. Reading your experiences touches my heart, as I too, was victim of a non-working loser who saw my kindness as a weakness and has attempted to drain my soul ever since. I bought my own engagement and wedding rings….much love to you<3


  5. That’s a heartbreaking reality to read but I was so pleased to get to the last line. You have amazing insight and your writing is captivating. May your divorce be finalised, letting you close one more door in your heart (I’ve been there). And here’s to the good life for you and your boys 🙂 x


  6. I can relate to almost every word that you wrote… from college to marrying an alcoholic to the various abuses that I have endured like yourself. So many of us seem to have it all together as we graduate from college, appear financially stable, and have seemed to make good decisions… only to fall into that same trap of falling for someone who manipulates us and uses us for what they can get from us. but we are too broken or co-dependent to realize what is happening. Your words are so true. Divorce is destructive! So many of us have been broken emotionally, physically, and financially through divorces. It’s like our “ex’s” try to suck the life ouf of us in an effort to destroy us. But we will overcome! We are strong… .and all that we have gone through will make us even stronger. Thanks for sharing!! I love your blog!!


  7. I don’t know what words can make any of this better. I’m sorry for your loss but happy that you found the hidden treasure amid all the chaos. Hugs and blessings to you and your lovely boys. Hope they will appreciate your strength later on.


  8. You are my long lost soul sister !!! As I read your story it is as if I am reading my life lawschool a new house 2 kids and the loser who I was so madly in love with that I made excuses for him ! They were mean to him he has had it rough ….the landmines that always ended up being my fault his expensive taste that would make me feel like I was saying no to a teenager whenever I would say no to him and eventually when I would give in and buy the 200 shoes instead of paying the gas bill…how he somehow ended up being the stay at home dad while i commuted almost 2 hours a day to work a long 8 hour job pregnant and would still get abused emotionally and physically now we are in a separation and I am left to clean up the mess of credit cards and debt but I’m glad me and the kids are safe …hang in there because the bank account may be low but the love account is FULL!


  9. I am always in ah of how you can make something so hard sound beautiful. You truly find the good in all situations. Finding a way to learn a lesson even in the most unlikely situations.


  10. Your story will help so many because you’re not alone in it. Now, let God’s redemption and restoration continue!! I’m so sorry you went through such a tragic stage of life. Praying you find some relief in the finalized divorce.


  11. You’re so strong and so positive. I love how truthful you always are, and not matter how hard or difficult it might be to write it you do so regardless. I appreciate the fact that at the end you always flip it around and make it a positive. You really are one of the most positive people I’ve come across.


  12. Wow, Rachael, you’ve been through so much and I respect you so much for sharing your story with other people so honestly and openly. I often think of your analogy of the broken pottery made stronger by gold. You are an inspiration and I’m so thankful you found yourself AND that you have those 3 amazing little boys too! Sending love.


  13. Rachael this was so so real. It’s an expensive price to pay but what you have learned and who you have become is priceless. Thank you for sharing.


  14. Dear Rachel,

    My name is Ashlee. I’m co-founder of the Youshare Project, with the mission to connect people around the world through true, personal stories. I recently stumbled across your blog and read the above post entitled “The Most Expensive 5 Years of My Life.” It’s beautifully written and compelling. I think it would make a wonderful youshare, because I would imagine other people around the world either have or are experiecing the same life lessons. Your story would help them feel less alone and inspire self respect and self worth, perhaps even helping to avoid making a bad situation worse.

    If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to email you directly with more information and formally invite you to adapt your story to youshare and share it with the project. You have my email address and website. I hope to hear from you soon.



  15. This is me!! Rachel you give me so much hope. After 2 loooong years of in and out of court, I am now gearing up for my first overnight visits starting in June. Its like on top of all of the ashes I was left with, financial messes left to deal with and bad decisions I am still financially paying for, cleaning it all up with no consequences to him, I am now left with a gloom day where our 2 children will go spend the night in a home I am not allowed to see with someone who shattered our lives. On top of it all my lawyer bill for him to just show up (mess) with no paperwork shout and still get everything he requested. You give me hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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