The worst of both worlds
Possibly the only thing more difficult than living with an alcoholic is divorcing one – especially when he’s a lawyer. I realize that the politically correct terminology is ‘a person living with alcoholism’ however, I’m not sure my ex necessarily qualifies as a human person. So, for the purpose of brevity, I’ll just call him Dick.
Dick and I were married for over 20 years and had three fantastic daughters. Dick was always a drinker, but as his law practice grew, so did his drinking. And his philandering. And his abuse.
So, I was both heartbroken and relieved when Dick demanded a divorce and moved out to pursue a much younger juror from one of his trials. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out.
Asking for help
While I scrambled to keep things as normal and happy as possible for my daughters, Dick continued chasing women and racking up credit card debt in the process. He also threatened to annihilate me in court if I dared hire an attorney. Not knowing where to begin, I reached out to a recently divorced colleague whom I deeply respected. I’ll call her Liz.
I felt too ashamed to admit what a mess my life had become, so I emailed her asking advice “for a friend:”
I have a friend in need of a killer divorce attorney. Do you happen to know of anyone you would recommend? No pressure!
Her response gave me the first glimmer of hope that things might work out.
Is your friend a woman?
My ex had Endora Shein*. She is the worst human being in the world and 100% out for blood. I have dreams of her painful demise. She is sneaky, underhanded, and the most evil person I have ever met.
If I had to do it over, I would have her.
I retained Endora immediately and she proved every bit as ruthless as promised.
Moving on, with a bit of baggage
While I waited for our court date, I sold our beautiful 3,000 sq. ft. suburban dream house at a loss and scraped together enough money for a down payment on a tiny 1915 craftsman in town. The little white cottage with green shutters turned out to be an even better dream home – one where my daughters and our hairless sphynx cat Whimsy could live happily in peace.
By the time we finally went to court, Dick had lost his job and become homeless – or ‘a person living with homelessness’ – whichever you prefer. He’d also wracked up $50k in credit card debt, which, in Wisconsin where we lived, is considered joint marital debt.
I walked away from court that day with a mountain of debt and the most profound sense of freedom I’ve ever experienced. I also had full custody of my youngest child (her sisters were legal adults by then) and I got to keep my little house. Over the next couple of years, I filed bankruptcy and hustled from one freelance gig to the next. Dick slowly disappeared from our lives.
A fairy godmother never hurts
Through it all, dear Liz stuck by my side and I still consider her my fairy godmother/therapist. She helped me find work when I desperately needed it, patiently allowed me to rant until my demons were fully exorcised (which took a very long time), and most important, she made me laugh.
Prior to the divorce, I’d been with Dick since I was 19. Two years after, I was still a single mom of three and well into my forties. I had gotten used to the idea that I would likely stay single forever. That is, until Liz waved her magic wand one more time.
We were out for a Halloween bar crawl when a funny little bald man approached us with quite possibly the worst pick-up line ever, “Hello can I buy you two drinks? By the way, I’m not bald – I’m hairless! I have alopecia universalis.”
Liz’s response, “Holly has a hairless cat!”
Today, I’m engaged to that funny little hairless man and we live together with three equally hairless cats. When asked for advice on getting through a nasty divorce, I recommend three things: find humor even in the darkest of times, trust in your fairy godmother – and hire Endora Shein.