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Let’s play a game. Imagine that you meet a lying thief, an impostor kind of person who lures you into a romance by taking you out for expensive nights on the town, building a brand-new house in a luxury development, and insisting that you both enjoy only the best of everything. This is the high life that you are promised by a man who also puts a ten thousand dollar diamond ring on your finger, the kind of life you expect from a man who also nurtures your sense of comfort and security. Plus he is tall and cute and funny.
So, you marry him.
Okay, now it gets really fun. Imagine that this man starts treating you very poorly after your $25,000 wedding. Nothing you do is right anymore; there are only sharp words for you, and—even better—the silent treatment. You are suddenly living with a very cranky person in your mini-mansion of a house. You shrug it all off and forgive your husband because he’s probably just getting used to the new marriage.
After six months of this—just a laugh a minute—you jokingly ask your knight in shining armor what the hell is wrong with him, ha ha. He glares at you, marches into his office, and comes back out with a grocery bag full of paper and envelopes. He tells you that this is what’s wrong with him. After he invites you to go through the bag, you find unpaid bills and collection notices. Heaps of them. He still owes on his part of the wedding even, while you and your parents paid long ago.
Your charming husband is $75,000 in credit card debt.
Since you are his wife, you help him start paying his bills—because that’s what good wives do. You transfer all of his debt into your name because you have better credit than he does. He transfers some of it back after a period of time because he wants to get laid again. You go back and forth like this for a year before you realize that you are paying the mortgage, the second mortgage, all of the household bills, and your husband’s child support. You are also teaching full-time and teaching extra classes too, for the extra money. You have been successfully juggling bills for so long in this strangely addictive circus that when you drop a ball and stupidly ask your husband to get a job, you get your head bitten off. Headless, you finally realize that something isn’t right.
So, you start divorcing him.
You have to leave the mini-mansion because it doesn’t belong to you; your hysterically funny husband never put your name on the title. You can’t take anything with you except your clothes and photo albums and cat. You don’t own anything else anymore because you sold all of your possessions when you moved in with Funnyman.
The game reaches new heights of amusement when your husband asks for half of your pension and spousal support. You cry, but they’re tears of laughter, right? It’s just one big game that somebody eventually has to win. You wonder if you’re the winner or the loser when you walk away with your pension intact, not having to pay spousal support, and $20,000 in credit card debt.
You decide you’re the winner because you got to leave the loser behind.
Six years later—today, in fact—you make the final payment on that debt. That was six years of paying $370 a month towards your ex-husband’s dick-ass mess, pardon your language. You wish you could see the bank debit your checking account for the last time, but it happens out there online somewhere. The bank is Chase and you wonder if that’s the name of the game you’ve been playing all these years: chase.
You’ve been waiting for this day for so long. It’s not that you didn’t enjoy paying that bill because you are inherently thrifty and like chipping away at debt, but deep inside, you know that $370 a month could go towards even more enjoyable endeavors, like buying a new car, or just a new shirt. Your good head—now firmly reattached to your shoulders—will surely figure out something productive to do with that money.
You straighten out the papers on your desk, fold some laundry, and water your plants. You feel some kind of bubbly feeling rising up in your body. You wonder if this is joy. You wonder if that jerkface ever really loved you, or just saw a bank account coming. You stop wondering because it’s a waste of time, and you’ve wasted enough time and money. You go with the joy and let the happy bubbles lift you up and carry you around your house—your own house, a normal house, not a mini-mansion. Soon, you are dancing. You are dancing and laughing and loving this day. Free at last. Free at last.