15 days ago, I realized if I didn’t change my situation drastically and leave the Matrimonial Home – I’d probably end up losing it all.

The amount of Stress from the situation I’m in wasn’t going to get better. I didn’t Relapse, I didn’t do anything atypical of a stereotypical “Recovering Addict” – I didn’t run away.

Yesterday, my 3 kids and I moved us out of the only home they have ever known into a new house 3 blocks away. I did this to ensure my Children remain in their Community; at their School/Daycare with their Friends. I lost my Dad as a Kid and feel that loss every day. I could never take away my Kids from their Father or their Father away from my kids.

Despite my Husbands behaviour; I do not want my Children to experience further Trauma from Divorce. Ripping them out of their home, Community, School, etc. just so I can escape – is not a solution. I am still advocating for Joint Custody (which is Education, Medical & Religious decision making rights) despite everything because Children deserve two parents involved.

I am telling this part of my story now because people need to be aware of the warning signs.

6 Months ago, I asked for a Separation with the hope we could find a way to Co-Parent our young children jointly while keeping them in their current home.

I went to my Husband explaining that I felt our marriage should end or we should at least try a Separation. Have you ever seen the movie “When a Man Loves a Women?With Meg Ryan as an Alcoholic? I was thinking it would happen along those lines as it sometimes does after Active Addiction and Recovery.

However, I was sadly mistaken to think this would ever work. The articles about New-Age Co-Parenting and Amicable approaches did not apply to my situation.

He wanted a Divorce. He wanted to move the kids 45 minutes away with Sole Custody so he could live with his Mother – despite them being with me 24/7. It would not matter how many “Professional Opinions” were given in regards to the situation. He continually says that they belong with him. It’s an all or nothing approach and it’s caused so much harm already.

Financially, I stayed (which I’m embarrassed to admit) because last Summer I did something so dumb. Worse than spending thousands on Opiate Pills actually because I lost my life’s savings in this decision. It’s incredibly hard to admit this because I should have known better.

After working on many files during my Career as a Banker, I was trained to look for signs of Financial Abuse and Duress.

Typically, we only saw this type of Abuse when we dealt with Seniors. Many had fallen prey to one of their Family Members (usually one of their own kids) who convinces them to sign over Power of Attorney or make accounts Joint. Then that person starts to deplete assets or move them into Sole Ownership.

Last Summer, just before I entered In-Patient Treatment; my Mother began telling me my Husband did not love me any more. This I feel was done on purpose (they had been talking on a regular, Daily basis about me by this point) to make me want to do anything to please him.

My Mother is not able to see how this behaviour would create this situation. That is unfortunate because many people do and it took me 5 months; 4 professional opinions to realize that’s the reality.

Summer 2018; 2 kids already, pregnant with a 3rd and about to go to Treatment – I felt scared and willing to do just about anything to make this horrible situation go away.

I don’t remember how exactly it came about but we started to discuss taking my name off the two houses we owned together. Everything we had ever done together was done 50/50 and he promised it was to protect the Family only. What this meant was my name would come off of $1.1 million worth of Real Estate; effectively transferring full ownership to him.

Over the course of 5 months, I signed over my assets to my Husband. The first house was in September 2018 and our Matrimonial Home in December 2018. When we had first began discussing this, my Addiction and the consequences seemed quite severe. During that Summer of 2018, I had been admitting to some pretty powerful Emotional stuff that dominated my ability to Recover for years.

Our finances had always been separate which in retrospect; protected my Family from the harm my Addiction was causing financially. Towards the last 6 months of my Addiction, the cost per day had skyrocketed. I couldn’t believe it had evolved into what it did but it never would have if I had had the love and support in the first place.

The only time I had real love and support from my Husband, his Family and my Mother was when I was in Treatment. It was also during this time that he was strategically convincing me that signing over these houses was what needed to happen to satisfy any doubts he had about staying married to me. I truly felt at the time if I didn’t do it, he would never trust me and leave me.

My Husband throughout those 5 months; promised he would never take our Assets from me unless I relapsed back to Opiate Addiction. Even then; it would have had to be an actual Relapse where the Family was at risk.

He had me sign over the properties under the guise that he was “saving the Family from my Addiction” just in case I ever relapsed. For someone who has never experienced Addiction before; they automatically assume you’ve been spending as much on your drug of choice throughout than you did during the end. For the non-Addict; they would never understand it’s an actual Cycle of Abuse all on its own with ebbs and flows.

When I asked for a Separation, I wanted to acknowledge any Emotional, Financial harm I had caused him in the past by refusing Spousal Support, or splitting any of his personal assets. I’ve worked since the age of 15 and feel confident in my ability to support myself. This seemed logical to me and of course, fair.

I had no idea there were already plans in place in case I tried to leave and I now realize signing over my Assets provided an Insurance Policy sort of. I naively believed my husband and his Family wouldn’t use my children as pawns despite telling Social Workers I believed this to be the case in March 2019. Whenever I made a suggestion about how to amicably split the assets; he would say I owed him for all the money I spent on my Addiction that could have gone to our Family. I had always covered 50 percent of our household expenses including the Mortgage and Daycare. I put myself into debt to finance my Addiction and I worked throughout. This did not add up whatsoever and it occurred to me he took the assets so he could effectively keep me from my half because he felt owed.

Something about the entire situation didn’t feel right and that’s because it wasn’t. My husband was always going to persue Full Custody so he could move our kids far away and retain full control. His Family and my Mother all called in new Accusations about me (this time for smoking Cannabis) to Children’s Aid despite me asking them to stay involved. Children’s Aid has to take all of these things seriously and they did. That’s why I ended up staying longer than anticipated because I wanted to make sure I met all of their bottom-lines.

When I went above and beyond their bottom-lines and got my Medicinal Cannabis Prescription; my husband made new accusations saying I take edibles and other addictive substances despite weekly urine Tests. I am being constantly harassed, called a “Drug Addict” in front of my Kids and of course; the cost of trying to prove my case has exceeded any of my financial resources available. He sold one of our properties and has been able to fully finance a Lawyer.

A typical Court case can run any where from $50-60k and that’s just for 3 days of Court. I’ve already spent $11,000 and there is no Court Date yet.

Finally in September 2019, I was given the go ahead to move out with the kids. Children’s Aid fully supports me as a Mother in Recovery. They got me a new crib for the Baby. I asked them to provide Counselling for my Oldest Daughter. They have helped me in ways that I never expected and it makes me sad I didn’t ask for help earlier on but I feel this all happened for a reason.

The day I told my Children’s Father we would be moving out; I was threatened by his Lawyer with an Emergency Custody Order with a $15,000 advance from Property I legally owned until I signed over ownership. There is no emergency order because there isn’t an emergency for him. There is an emergency for me however as I can no longer afford to retain a Lawyer, I am supporting 3 kids and I’m on my own. I studied Family Law for several years to become an Accredited Financial Planner so I feel equipped to navigate my situation as far as I can.

I started running “Original Product” in May 2019 which helped me pay for $11,000 in Legal Fees already; just to get no where. Legal Abuse is common in these situations just as much as Financial Abuse occurs. I was cut off financially by my Husband in April. He works from home, has a company car, gas card and free Cell Phone.

He had been taking all of my government benefits up until then so I literally had nothing. From June 2018-May 2019, he controlled the finances and I had no access to a Bank account. He kept a joint account with my name on it just so the payments could be deposited. Almost everything and anything I have done to change this situation for myself and my Children has been “used against me” somehow throughout the past 6 months. What’s troubling about this entire situation is that certain things don’t add up.

The years I lived as an Addict were personal, private and well; confined to a Separate life I chose to live.

That’s on me. That’s my fault. I should have known better, I should have asked for help some time during the first 5 years but I couldn’t. I knew this would always happen, deep down. I always knew what he and his Family were capable of because they have done it before. So, I did what a lot of Women do: I played a part for so many years until I couldn’t play it any more. However, people still wanted me in the role “designated” for my place within the “Family.”

For the last 2 years of my Active Addiction to Opiates; everyone sat back and watched me destroy myself. Any love, support, encouragement or compassion was reserved for my Husband. It is so incredibly confusing because it was during those years that my Husband seemed the happiest in our marriage. He certainly played his part. We always exchanged handwritten cards every Christmas, Birthday, Valentines Day and that was the only time he ever apologized to me for his behaviour along with words of love, compassion and appreciation.

We had 3 kids after all; I maintained my Banking career until April 2018. I financed most of my Addiction on my own. When I needed his help and found courage to tell him I was in trouble; he called me a “fucking bitch” and that he would financially help me as long as I never left him. This became terrifying because I was pregnant, had two young kids and now I’ve just admitted my deepest, darkest shame to another person.

I truly believe my Husband stopped loving me long ago and has been so fearful of Divorce and judgement that he stayed in his role too. I truly believe he is a victim of his own Parents; who are encouraging this acrimonious behaviour.

On the day I told him we were moving out; that night around 9:30 pm I walked into my house, into my Kitchen. His Mother, his oldest Sister and her 16 year old daughter were all there while my oldest played downstairs. I felt like I was walking into a Lions Den. I had been warned about things that could happen once I had communicated we were leaving and it was happening before my eyes.

This was incredibly unusual to have them in my house this late on a Week night. This had never happened in the past and during our Seperation, he never invited his Family over without giving me a heads up.

They were there to intimidate me and start a conflict in an attempt to cause harm. They do not see their behaviour whatsoever which was evident when I walked in as his oldest sister (who is the most confrontational of them all) began her plan of attack when I said “what’s going on?” as I walked into my house.

I have not seen his Sisters in 6 months and chose to block his Family from all Social Media in May 2019. When I walked into my house, not expecting them and of course; being talked to like a piece of shit on the day I tell my Husband I’m moving out – it just felt like a set-up to cause me distress.

My husband has been actively recording and documenting me this entire time despite being told not to by Professionals and Children’s Aid. Please don’t do this in a Divorce. It causes so much bullshit.

Walking into my own home that night, I was painfully aware that his Mother was probably recording me. She will only join in on an attack if she has one of her kids behind her. This scenario was set just like another situation that had occurred months before which I will write about some other time. They don’t see this behaviour as anything but normal. It’s not.

I went downstairs and grabbed my oldest daughter. We left and went to our neighbours house. He followed me there despite this person being listed as a Support for the girls and I with Children’s Aid. Luckily he didn’t come to her door but still, the incident scared me.

When people are more concerned about promoting a Person over amicable co-parenting and the Children; there is a problem.
When someone does everything in their power to redeem themselves but it’s never enough; there is a problem.
When someone uses the Emotional Power they have over you to manipulate Financial Assets; there is a problem.
When an entire Family will lie, collude, connive and gossip about someone in an attempt to ruin their life; there is a problem.

If the duration of my Addiction had been one-long running episode of “Intervention” – I could understand the concern but it was not. I have made serious attempts at making amends to those I’ve harmed but no one can live their lives trying to right a wrong.

Drug Addiction is one of the most common symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and Emotional Abuse:

Spousal abuse has been identified as a predictor of developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction. American Society for Addiction Medicine

Either we evolve past “blaming the Drug Addict” by truly learning to understand how it’s caused, and prevented or people need to part ways. No one benefits from living in the past, building up resentment.

It is abuse if one continues to sabotage someone’s Recovery. It is called “Front-Loading” in Family Law where a Spouse fills a Court Application with all the misdeeds committed against them that has no relation to how you parent your children today.

Law professor Cynthia Godsoe observed that findings of child abuse or neglect often focus on “parental conduct that, while perhaps undesirable, does not cause proven harm to children.” 
A study in Washington, DC, found that 75% of children removed from their parents did not meet the necessary standard of risk. Instead, children are routinely removed in part for “dirty houses” or parental marijuana use so minimal that the amounts do not merit a misdemeanor criminal charge.

READ: Legal Applications of the “Best Interest of the Child” Standard: Judicial Rationalization or a Measure of Institutional Competence?

I hope my story helps someone reading today. I’ve had so many incredible messages of love and support throughout the last 6 months. The unintended aspect of my story is that it has helped several Women already.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me these last 6 months. It really does take a Village. You hurt the Mother, you hurt the kids too.

This post is dedicated to another AW for she broke out of the Cycle too. Thank you for being the only other one to understand.

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