I got a call one evening last week that I'd been anticipating. In fact I pretty much knew it would come at some point. My ex is going to lose the house (manufactured home) he kept in our divorce. He can't cover the mtg payment/insurance/utilities on his latest job - a warehouse worker for Kmart earning $7 an hour. Big surprise there. Before getting this job he was out of work for a couple of months, so was already deep in the hole... again. Holding jobs has never been his strong point.
Since our bankruptcy determination included the option to return the home as a voluntary repossession, there should be no attempts on their part to recover the substantial amount owed over what the house is now actually worth - which is not much since it has been badly neglected for the past few years. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I will be VERY relieved to have this last piece of legal/financial business between us concluded. My name is on the loan with his and it was impossible to change that. It is far better for it to show up on my credit now when my credit rating is already in the toilet than a few years down the road when it is starting to look better.
But then there are the emotional factors. My ex will be out of a home to call his own. He is planning to move in with his parents who live a mile down the road, at least until he can get back on his feet. The reality is that there is no place one can afford to rent on that kind of income. His girlfriend, who has lived with him for almost two years now, will move in with her mother in town. She and I have become close friends and visit often. I know that she is ok with this development as it gives her a less confrontational way of separating from him. They have had a lot of ups and downs and she's pretty worn out with trying to make it work. They may find a way to live together again down the road, and may not. I have mixed feelings about that too. He needs her and she loves him, but she deserves much better.
And then there is the house itself. He and I purchased the home together, using down payment money that was a gift from my dad. It was beautiful 15 years ago, shiny new, top of the line, the first home I had ever owned. We cleared the land for it, which belonged to his grandfather and was where he had grown up, hauling out years and years worth of trash, dead trees, junked cars, etc. to make it look good. I planted flowers and lilac bushes. We watered the trees, planted vegetable gardens, and mowed the weeds until it began to look like home. I loved living in the country back then, and he always did. But as the marriage unraveled, so did the dreams, and the yard, and the house. With frequent bouts of unemployment there was little money for repairs and upkeep, and what money there was too often went to other things that it shouldn't have. Motivation to work on repairs and upgrades went by the wayside as his use of illegal substances escalated and his work record deteriorated. By the time I finally left in December 2007, what remained was a battered house with siding falling off, holes in the walls and busted door frames from his tantrums. It looked as unloved and abandoned as I felt. On the few occasions that I had to visit him later or drive past it, it broke my heart to see such disrepair and the weeds once again overtaking it.
I had a short uneventful phone conversation with my ex on Friday night to discuss what he needed to do regarding the house. It's the first time we've talked in several months. After all this time, hearing his voice still gets to me emotionally. I guess the feelings I once had for him will never be truly gone, though I wouldn't want him back for a gift. I don't wish for anyone to lose their home, or their partner, or their pet (Stormy - his cat of nearly 15 years will probably be coming to live with us). Of course he brought it on himself. In the end, we reap what we sow, and we live with the decisions that we make, both good and bad. Still, I feel sad for him. And I could not help but shed a few a tears over what will be the final conclusion of our life together. The land will revert to what it was before we came there... a pasture full of weeds where the ghosts of lives past and love lost can be heard whispering in the night. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.