Vivianne had been married for 11 years and had two small children when her husband’s increasingly abusive behavior convinced her that safety was more important than wedding vows. She made a rapid move away from New York to New Jersey to create her new life. It wasn’t easy – she had to closed her law office in New York, lost a subsequent job and sold her jewelry. Her freedom however, was the silver-lining. Here’s Vivianne:
When I left, I needed to find a good school system, affordable housing and someplace where my children would have trees and grass to play on. My sister lives in New Jersey, my parents live here most of the year and I needed that support system.
My ex was very unreliable. He had lost his job and whenever he got down about something, he would withdraw his help. For example, if we’d get into an argument, he’d say,
“I’m not going to help you pay the mortgage,” or
“I’m not going to watch the children for you.”
I had to go to work, I had clients depending on me, I had to be in court for them but he didn’t care. So I couldn’t count on him anymore and that’s why I moved to New Jersey. To offset that, I agreed to allow him to have weekend visitations with the children every weekend. That didn’t last very long.
My ex decided he was not going to see the children anymore and he stopped providing me with child support. Around that time, a lot of lawyers were losing their jobs because of the financial crisis and I also lost my job. Money became really tight. If it wasn’t for unemployment, I don’t know how I would made it through.
There were times when I had to do some serious juggling and I actually had to sell a lot of my jewelry to make ends meet. My mother gave me many of the pieces when I was growing up so they had a lot of sentimental value.
The very first time I went to sell some pieces, I was so heartbroken. I cried. Envision me going to the jeweler and handing them over but not wanting to hand them over. I had a light bill I had to pay and I didn’t have enough money. I had no choice, so I did it and I lived through it. They’re pieces of jewelry. I still have my parents, I still have their love. I don’t need a piece of jewelry to signify that.
I look at personal possessions differently now. When I first moved away, I barely took anything. I had to take just what was essential to survive because I went from a four-bedroom house on a large lot to a small two-bedroom apartment. I had to learn to let go and yes, it was difficult at first but I knew what I had to do.
Here we are a couple of years later and we’re fine. We make do with less, the children aren’t lacking for anything and I feel lighter. What was important to me was that sense of freedom I got from being here, from moving. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
The Divorce Coach Says
I have been very fortunate not to have experienced the financial problems that Vivianne faced and I admire her resilience and strength – she knew she couldn’t count on her ex for support and she built her life knowing it wouldn’t be there. Her message about possessions is similar to Candace Walsh who found a richer life with less money after her divorce.
I can feel her pain over her jewelry – my condo was broken into shortly after I moved to the U.S. and aside from losing all the electronics, I also lost my jewelry. Most of it was costume jewelry but a few key items were treasures – a Cartier watch which was a gift from a friend, a gold bracelet I’d bought on a trip to South Africa and a small paper knife with mother-of-pearl inlaid in the handle that had belonged to my grandfather. I didn’t replace them and after I was burgled a second time about a year later, I wasn’t interested.
I’ve moved several times over the years and each time, I shed more and more belongings without hardship. That being said, I know I would struggle to start from scratch again as Vivianne did. If I am ever in that position, I hope I’m as determined as she.
Photo Credit: Swanksalot at Flickr