Well, now I do. So today was the day that Julie very kindly came round and opened and sorted the letters to make it a more manageable task for me to deal with. I'd meant to get this job done since my return home last weekend. I'd already seen my solicitor and we'd agreed a way forward. But somehow I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm not known for procrastination - quite the opposite in fact - but this week I've been finding no-end of 'important and pressing' jobs that took precedence over facing that pile of letters.
Daft, really. I know what's in them. After all, I completed this whole process at the beginning of October when I first became aware of two huge debts that were in my name - a major shock as you can imagine! At that time I sat down and worked out all of my commitments and started looking for help from debt advisors. You'll know from my previous posts that I have spent hours and hours talking with different people from different organisations in my quest to get to the bottom of the issue and to find a solution. And that each time I have been given different - sometimes conflicting - advice from professionals and advisory bodies. It's been infuriating to say the least!
Well, now that I have a solicitor who's prepared to fight with gloves off, I feel I'm finally moving forward. And, funnily enough, on a route that is totally unrecognisable from the "only option" I was told was open to me just before Christmas. Persistence pays. Now the debts are "under matrimonial jurisdiction" and, as such, will be contested and need to be included in the negotiations for the divorce settlement. No matter that they are in my sole name - the fact remains that I was unaware of their existence. The fact remains that my husband acted without my consent. The fact remains that I have been duped - because I was blinded by love and trust for the person I believed was my soulmate. No more. My emotions are now in check, and I see clearly the nature of the beast I am dealing with.
And the discoveries of this afternoon have made me even more grateful for my escape. And even more convinced of my innocence in the many financial hardships we faced over our marriage. For within the letters that have been forward were a few - just a handful - that were intended for him, so should never have reached me. Of course I didn't know the difference until I opened them (for those who have ever used Royal Mail's post forwarding service, you'll know that the original address window is completely obscured by the oversized redirect label). Having opened the letters, of course I read them. OK, I accept, I should not have been privy to the contents, and technically I should really have re-sealed the envelopes the second I realised the letters were not intended for me - but hey, nobody's perfect, right?
The pile consisted purely of demands for payment - and this is only a snap-shot for I'm sure the majority of his intended letters stay in Scotland. Debt collectors, solicitors, arrears departments all seem very keen to meet up and secure a relationship with my husband, threatening entry to the apartment by fair means or foul. But he appears to be ignoring them all - strange, because not so long ago didn't I find him advertising for "new and exciting back-door encounters"....? Perhaps he's had his fill.
Among the debt collectors are a demand for £120 outstanding with a video rental company - how on earth can anyone run up such a bill? There is a solicitor's letter chasing £780 from a mobile phone supplier. An energy supplier threatening to cut off the services unless £87 is paid immediately. And the telephone company suggesting very politely that perhaps non-payment of their bill for £73 has been an oversight on his behalf.
Now, OK, most of us are sometimes a little bit late paying a couple of bills. But this, surely, takes the biscuit? As I've said before, I have earned nothing over the past year - and also suffered a serious knee injury which meant I couldn't move for a few weeks - and yet, and yet.... every single one of my current financial obligations have been met. I have a fantastic reputation with the bank, and also with the mortgage company who were going to repossess while he was in charge of the finances! He, on the other hand, has had no such debts to deal with. He has had work with at least two of our clients from Top Banana. He has also been in full time employment in a senior role since the beginning of September.
So what's it all about?
For me, it's about breathing an enormous sigh of relief that I discovered the truth. It's about realising that I was not to blame for our financial issues (although I hold my hand up to simply believing whatever he told me, without insisting on the evidence). It's about a new-found confidence in what I'm doing - and a renewed determination to fight against these financial institutions who think it's OK to threaten the "little people" - like me - without care or concern about the effects it has on families who are struggling to cope.
Those who know me well can vouch for the fact that I will fight against any injustice. Well, after this afternoon, I've discovered that I have more fire in my belly than I had previously thought. And now I'm prepared to battle against the banks, credit card companies and other financial houses - for finally I believe in my own monetary skills.
Watch this space and mark my words - this is war.