After living like this for 26 years, you may question what it took for me to finally get up the nerve to file for divorce. Actually nerve had nothing to do with this at all. Fear, shock, betrayal and what I like to think of as divine intervention had everything to do with setting the ball in motion and putting me on auto-pilot for the next several days.
On Friday, July 10th, 2009, I went to the bank in the late afternoon to cash a small check. As I stood in line waiting for my turn, a quiet voice in my head suddenly and very politely directed me to ask the teller for the balance of my two accounts. Why would I want to do that?…I silently questioned back. I couldn’t begin to fathom what the reason could be why there was such an urgency to obtain this information. Dick controlled our money. He felt that since he worked and I did nothing all day (his version of what a stay-at-home mom did) the money was HIS because he earned it. According to his logic, since I didn’t contribute financially, this money was technically not mine, even though it was a joint account. I knew that if I ever made a withdrawal without his instruction, all Hell would have broken loose. So to answer the voice in my head, I responded, “Thanks for the suggestion, but I’m going to take a pass.” At that point, whoever had taken up temporary residence inside of me had lost all patience and started yelling, “CHECK ON THOSE BALANCES NOW!!! CHECK ON THOSE BALANCES NOW!!! CHECK ON THOSE BALANCES NOW!!!” Even though I wasn’t quite certain what all the hysteria was about I decided that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to enquire about those balances after all.
At the completion of my transaction with the teller, I asked for the status of my funds and also inquired about how to keep track of them on-line. I was told to speak with a banker.
What happened next will permanently be etched into every fiber of my being for the rest of my life. I immediately discovered why it was so critical to check my assets right then and there. The financial officer informed me that there was only a checking account and proceeded to tell me the available amount. I told her that we had a money market account as well. She looked at me, turned her computer screen in my direction and pointed to where the balance of our money market account was “zero.” She informed me that the account was closed out the day before. Then she apologized. Was she actually looking at me with pity and saying she was sorry??? How could this be happening to me??? She tried to soften the blow by saying that maybe there was a computer error and I should check with the banker at the branch location where the withdrawal took place. I thanked her, walked to my car in a daze and drove off with the voice in my head now roaring, “THE ACCOUNT WAS CLOSED OUT THE DAY BEFORE…THE DAY BEFORE…THE DAY BEFORE!!! Talk about divine intervention…
I have no recollection of how I got to my destination. The banker at this branch confirmed what I just learned and told me how sorry she was. This had definitely turned out to be my day for banker sympathy. I vaguely remember responding, “Not as sorry as he’s going to be.” I asked how Dick was able to close out the account without my knowledge. I was informed that in Illinois (where I live) only one person was needed to close an account. Who knew? Obviously not me. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to ask for a copy of the statement that the account was closed. I also asked where the money was. She told me that because the new account was only in my husband’s name, I had no access to it. I asked if an attorney would be able to get that information. She handed me her business card and told me to call with any questions.
I left the bank shaking, crying and totally scared out of my mind. What was I going to do? Even more troubling was what on earth was my husband planning to do?