You know, I thought the days of a woman's worth or value being measured in dollars went out with bonnets and empire waistlines. But this is what I have been having to tackle this week. And I didn't handle it very well. At all. Oh yes people - it's settlement time. After explaining to my Ex for what seems like the 10th time, that we don't get our money from the house sale until we reach a financial settlement, and lodge it with the family court. And any of you out there living with your partners, who don't think you have the same rights as married couples, think again. The laws changed last year and I am finding myself in a very weird place.
You see, we get to split the house 50/50, but we also get to split our superannuation too. I get that this law is for the benefit of women who take time out of the workforce to have children, or who have partners or husbands who earn more than they do. But what happens when you have been the one who has saved hard and planned for the future? Well, in my case it seems, you can get fucked over. Yep - I've always contributed at a higher rate to my super, and I have about 8 times what my Ex does. And he can legally take a huge chunk.
I have tried to prepare myself for this moment. And the Ex has been reasonable and wants to avoid lawyers and try to come to a figure. He wants to do that between us. Fair enough, we've both spent thousands on lawyers already. But I offered him a figure last week, and he sort of asked for more. Something just popped in my head and I ended up leaving work as I couldn't stop sobbing. I cried all day. ALL DAY. I cried so hard I thought I was going to be physically sick. It just felt like he was punishing me. How much is enough? How can you put a price on your pain or what a relationship was? Tying up emotions and money is a simply awful thing to have to do.
A few people have said, take the hit now and you'll bounce back financially. I have even told myself that this money is the 'price' of my freedom. But weirdly it still felt like I was taking a kicking. Many friends have become outraged by the fact I have to pay out my super. One friend even said last week 'does he realise this makes him the woman in the relationship?' I'd like to know what he'd say to that. The interesting thing is, that I wonder if the situation was reversed, would they feel outrage at me taking his super? But perhaps the real question is, would I feel entitled to take it? And I think if I'm honest with myself, I don't think I would.
So perhaps this explains the tears. Maybe it is the fact that we have to put a dollars and cents worth on ourselves and our old relationship. It doesn't sit well at all, as I've always tried my best to look after myself. But I also had thrown at me by the Ex, the fact that 'I have a better future earning potential'. Great now I'm being punished for getting off my arse and going to Uni on top of full time work. It's not easy, and in fact it's actually goddam scary, and for that privilege I get to pay my HECS debt in tax as I go.
So maybe this is what is really causing me pain. I've tried. I've strived. I've put money into my super, worked full time for 22 years, aimed for a better standard of education, and ultimately, a better state of mental health through being in a better relationship. And I still have to pay him to leave.
The tears have dried, my swollen eyes have returned to normal size, and I will once again send him a figure. I have my fingers crossed that this is the end of negotiations (as he promised) and we can get the lawyers to start the paperwork. For that is the last step. The final hurdle. The end of it. And after 14 months of pain, when it is all done and dusted, and I can finally move on with my life, I will know that it was worth it.