It may seem as though I have slain all of the demons from my past. I can look at pictures without tears. I’m no longer fueled by anger. I have let myself find forgiveness. I have learned how to trust again and I have found love.
But there has been one huge elephant of a demon that I’ve been afraid to face. One I have been avoiding, tiptoeing around its bulk so as not to disturb it. I’ve been good about pretending it isn’t there. That it doesn’t matter. And for a time, it didn’t matter. But that time is over.
Last night, I did it. I faced that final demon head on.
And I survived.
It wasn’t as bad as I feared it may be (it never is, is it?) yet facing it didn’t bleed it of all its power. But at least I know now what I am dealing with and I can feel good about not hiding from it.
I did it. I finally did it.
I checked my credit score.
I used to have perfect credit. I was anal about making payments on time. I had large credit limits yet low levels of debt. I found security in my number. Perhaps I even looked at that number as validation. I must be a good person, I can get a good interest rate.
Apparently, that number was too much for my ex to resist. In the last couple (I think?) years of the marriage, he used my credit. He used my honesty to fund his lies.
When all of this came out within days of the text, I felt huge amounts of shame. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know he was embezzling from the marriage (I counted on fraud alert, but it doesn’t protect you from spouses). I was horrified to receive threatening letters from creditors in my name (he was no longer around to intercept the mail). I was furious with him. I felt violated and used. Dirty. I wanted to wash myself of his sins.
I couldn’t face the enormity of it. I had my dad check my credit, looking for what accounts my ex had used in my name. I didn’t want to know numbers, only names.
In the divorce, most of debt was his responsibility, although he never fulfilled his end of the bargain, thus leading to a foreclosure in my name. A parting gift, perhaps? The few accounts in my name where mine to deal with.
For the last almost four years, I have been dealing with them.
I paid the IRS and then received a refund once I was granted innocent spouse relief. I paid off one credit line. And I’m working on the last (the most horrific, both in scale and in emotion, because some of it was used to fund his pre-honeymoon with his other wife).
My cautious nature with money means that bills are again being paid on time. I’ve been able to begin to reestablish myself as a credit worthy individual. But I still couldn’t look at the number.
I saw it like a scarlet mark of shame, quantifying my misplaced trust and stupidity.
It’s also the only factor from my past that doesn’t only exist in the past. It still has the capacity to cause harm, to derail my future as surely as my marriage.
But now I’ve faced that elephantine demon, sized it up. The starvation diet has been working; I’m sure its bulk has been reduced since it appeared. I now know the demon I am working with and I can move forward with the rest of my life.
I did it. I finally did it.