DIY Divorce

My DIY Divorce and Changing My Name

DIY Divorce

Almost a year ago, my second marriage ended abruptly.  We had been married for less than 2 years.  The last few months before I kicked him out we separated were extremely tumultuous.  He had lost yet another job and basically seemed to give up on life.  He took on a part-time job at a golf course for $9 an hour, and barely managed to make it to work most days.  He was chain-smoking both cigarettes and pot.  Even though he was home all day he rarely helped out around the house anymore.  I was working 70-80 hours a week, and instead of enjoying our time together when I was home he was constantly complaining about everything: I worked too much, my kids were terrible people, the car I bought for him uses too much gas, there’s never any food in the house, etc. etc. etc.

I understood that he was down.  I understood that his diabetes was probably flaring up because he stopped taking his meds.  I begged him to go to the doctor and get himself feeling better, but he wouldn’t.  He claimed he didn’t have money, but he still managed to find money to buy cigarettes and pot.

July 2nd of last year, we had what started out as a typical argument.  He would complain, I would say nothing, waiting patiently for him to get it out of his system so we could enjoy the rest of our night.  He became unusually agitated, getting in my face and yelling derogatory things about my kids and me.  I was trying to vacuum and shampoo the living room carpet at the time.  He picked up the vacuum cleaner and slammed it down on the floor, breaking it.  Then he rushed at me, grabbed me, and bit me on the neck, hard.  He did not break the skin, but I did have a bruise for the next week.  I slapped his face to get him off me, then he pushed me onto the couch.  I told him I’d had enough, there was no way in hell I’d tolerate that from anyone, and that he had to get out.  Instead of calming down, he continued to yell, and I was honestly afraid for my safety.

I knew I needed to leave the house.  I grabbed my keys and purse off the kitchen counter, then for some stupid reason ran upstairs intending to get my charger and some overnight things.  He followed me upstairs, still screaming, throwing anything he could grab in my direction (not hitting me).  When I grabbed my charger, he spit in my face.  I knew I didn’t have time to pack a bag.  Luckily, I was able to run out of the house and got into my car.  He followed, still screaming, and threw something (keys, I think) at my car as I pulled away.

I was shaking, crying, appalled, shocked, and pissed.  I tried to calm myself down.  I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do, but I knew I was never going back to that house – my own house! – as long as he was there.  I needed gas, so I drove in a roundabout path to a gas station I didn’t normally go to be sure he wasn’t following.  I went to a parking lot of a store that I never shopped at, and then I called my girlfriend that I knew would help me.  And, God bless her, she did.  She met me halfway between our houses, and I stayed with her that night.  He probably suspected I was with her, but he had no idea where she lived or how to get a hold of her.

At about 11 pm that night, he texted me.  He said he would leave the next day, but the music store where he sold his stuff would only give him a check…could I give him $600 in exchange for the check so he could leave?  I didn’t even bother to respond.

Thankfully, he did leave without further incident.  He took his dog and the things he could fit into his Miata and left everything else.

After a week of not responding to any of his apology texts, I finally texted to him that I would not reconsider reconciliation.  He accepted that.

I’m not going to lie, the next few months were really hard.  I worked a lot.  My moods vacillated wildly between panicked depression and being happy and grateful for all the support I received.  My family and friends were wonderful.  About 2 months after he left, he and I talked briefly about seeing each other for closure.  While I was still angry and shocked at what happened, I’ll admit I missed him a lot, and harbored a lot of self-blame for the events that led up to that day.  I even had a weekend trip planned to see him, but then a hurricane cancelled the plans.  I took it as a sign and told him I would be filing for divorce.

After that, he started to blame me for everything, which is fine.  At that point, it just didn’t matter any longer.  It actually made it easier.

Our divorce was final in March.  Despite multiple requests for him to get his belongings out of my house, he still has not done so.  Today was my drop dead date for him to get it or it would be gone forever.

I’m not a mean person, so getting rid of his stuff is going to be very hard for me.  But it’s been nearly a year that I’ve stored his stuff, moving it all into the garage, looking at it every day.  I even offered to take it to a storage unit if he would rent one so he wouldn’t have to see me.  Despite a certified letter and multiple texts, I haven’t heard from him at all.  I know a lot of it has sentimental value to him, but if it meant that much to him, surely he could have made arrangements by now.

My do-it-yourself divorce itself was relatively easy.  We did not have attorneys.  We had no joint assets or debts.  Additionally, since he did not file a response to my divorce complaint, I was able to have him declared a non-participant.  This meant that I was able to move through the process without the mandatory mediation or any input or signatures from him on the judgment.  (Just for the record, I did not screw him over.  I used the online forms and didn’t change a thing, which meant what’s mine is mine and what’s his is his and we just want to not be married any longer.)

One of the toughest decisions I had to make in the divorce process was whether to change my last name.  I dreaded changing it because the process is tedious, and I had just gone through it a couple of years before when we married.  Additionally, I didn’t want to have to admit to the whole world that my second marriage had failed.  However, I was married for such a short time that I also didn’t want to keep his last name forever.  Essentially, it was not the name I wanted on my tombstone when I die.

Name Change Options

I briefly considered going back to my first husband’s name because I’d had that name for 23 years, but that didn’t really seem right either.  Also, not appropriate for my tombstone.

I toyed with returning to my maiden name.  My family and school friends know me by that name, but no one I’ve met in the last 20+ years does.  It’s the most difficult of the three names to pronounce and spell.  But I knew in my heart that’s what I needed to do.  I needed to return to my roots; to return to being me and never give that up again.  So that’s what I did.  And, while it’s odd and I feel like I’m 12 again when I see it, it was absolutely the right decision.  Definitely tombstone appropriate.

I’ll tolerate the attention another name change will generate at work because I know this is the last time I’ll ever have to deal with it.  Even if I should happen to marry again, I won’t change my name.  And I’ll advise every girl I ever speak to not to change her name as well.  I understand why women want to – I did it twice – but now I feel like it’s a submissive and ridiculous societal norm that should really be eradicated.

Being a two-time divorcee is definitely not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life, but there you have it.  Two up, 2 down.  Depressing.  But I’m wise enough to know that, for whatever reason, it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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