Last night I did a stupid thing.
I don't know why, but for some reason last night I decided I would look up the property record of the house I used to own with my ex-husband.
Well, I do kind of know why. I was thinking about credit and debt and buying a house and although I had checked my credit a couple of years ago and the debt for the house he and I had bought together was gone, I never really knew what had happened to it. Had he sold it? Had someone paid it off for him? I had no idea.
So I Googled. And I found it.
He sold it, in 2006. To his cousin. For $8000 less than we had paid for it in 1996. And we? Paid almost nothing for it in 1996.
So that was that, right? It's sold, it's gone. Someone else lives there now.
I couldn't help but think of all the things I left behind when I left that home. When my dad physically came to where I was and deposited me and my little children in his van and took us away. Because if he hadn't, I would have surely died. Emotionally I was already dead at that point. I couldn't function, I couldn't think, I could barely even breathe.
So I left.
And I left behind my piano. The wedding dress from my first wedding. My curio cabinet. My childhood toybox. And most terrifying? A lot of my writing. A lot.
I had a file cabinet. I used to keep it in the living room, next to the woodstove. I filled it up with my things. Things which were mundane, like bills, but also things that were close to my heart, like my writing.
I did get back a number of my diaries, but not until after my ex-husband had sat down and read them all one night and called me and mocked me for what they said. These were diaries from middle school and high school and not intended to be shared with the world. He said, "You left them in my house, so I have every right to read them!"
But it wasn't his house. It was our house.
Worst of all, we had bought it from my parents, before they moved away. It was the house I grew up in. My childhood home. Nearly every memory I have of my sister is in this house. Nearly every good memory of my childhood is inside that house, or out in that yard, or in the creek out back. When he decided to leave me, to destroy me, to ruin our family and leave my children without a father, he got everything. I got the children, and the debt. He got the house.
We went to court, mind you. I gave up the house by signing a quit-claim deed. I had to get away. I knew, even in my fragile state, that if I didn't go away, far, far away he would continue to make my life hell. I knew, somewhere in my mind, that there was something more, something better, and I was not going to find it if I stayed where I was. I had to go.
Thinking back I should have insisted he sold the house and split the profits with me. It was easily worth three times what we paid for it. But I didn't. And when the judge informed him that he would have to pay certain bills, even though they were in my name, he dutifully said he would. When we went outside he laughed in my face and said he would never pay those bills, he didn't care, and if my credit went to hell, "oh well".
Now his cousin and his cousin's family own that house. His little children play in that yard and in that creek. They go to the same school I went to as a child. Maybe they even play my piano. I don't know.
I lost everything I had, at that time, except my children. Which, it turned out, were the only things that mattered anyway.
I try to imagine who I would be, if I was still there. Who I would have become. If I would even still be alive and able to function.
Maybe I would have overcome it. Maybe I would have lived in that same town and ran into him and his girlfriend that he left me for on Friday nights at Wal-Mart. Maybe I would have met another guy with nothing going on in his heart or head and married him too. Maybe I would have turned it all around somehow and he and I would still be married and raising Boy Child and Girl Child together in a little house, going nowhere.
I don't know.
I only know, I am so grateful that it makes my heart hurt, that I am not that girl I used to be.