Tuesday 20th October - a pretty innocuous day for most - I've looked it up to see what interesting events have happened in history on that date - opening of Sydney Opera House in 1973, the marriage of Jackie Kennedy to Aristotle Onassis in 1968 and in 1818 the Uk And US agreeing the Canadian border. Nothing really spectacular or memorable to most of us - but to those involved in each of these events a milestone - be it the culmination of years of work to create a spectacular building, a dream come true, the beginning of a different life after a devastating event or a final agreement being brokered that will impact on the lives of future generations. And to me Tuesday 20th October 2009 was one such day.
The day began as normal - 6.45 am get brat 1 up for school - breakfast and run her to the bus stop for 7.45 and then the same with brat 2 to be in school for 8.45 but this time I'm dressed up, make up on and driving into Belfast to attend the High Court again. As usual I hadn't slept the night before, as usual I was panicking about ensuring all relevant documents with me and as usual was expecting him either not to turn up or to pull some kind of stunt - because its what he does - him being 003.5. Its a funny place the High Court in Belfast - a beautiful building with a long hall alongside which and upstairs various courts are held. The meeting place is on any of the benches in the hall - a huge area. As I waited for my solicitor and barrister to arrive I spied 003.5 at the entrance who having spied me made a deliberate point of brushing right past where i sat - difficult to do in an area that is 40ft wide but he always does it - then sets up camp just outside the ladies so that if I have to go to the loo I have to pass him. 2 years ago this would have frightened me - Women's Aid used to attend court with me to stop this nonsense. It doesn't bother me anymore - it just all seems so pathetic - and after all if anyone should be hiding - it should be him. My barrister arrived smiling which is always a good sign - it was then she delivered the news that he had finally agreed to a settlement having been told that if he were to go ahead with the hearing he stood to lose an awful lot more (which he always knew- this was about control right to the very end - and he was prepared to make his children homeless over it). The impact of her statement is hard to comprehend - the realisation that finally it is all over - and I can grab my life back - not just exist between court dates and whatever stunt he pulls next. I think the breaking point for him was that we could prove perjury and the judge had intimated last time that 003.5 had filed a false affidavit which for a police officer is serious should we wish to make a complaint. So that was it. Of course he did string out signing the agreement and complained of being harassed and controlled by having to sign it on that day and seriously managed to p*ss off my barrister who (being a very straightforward Geordie lass) at one point threatened to "ram it up his arrogant smug a**e" and pull him into the courtroom before the judge whose court orders he had broken in the last couple of months. Funnily enough having been used to his behaviour and his tactics I smiled and said "let him do what he's doing - he's gonna sign or he wouldn't be here - he doesn't matter" - and he did sign and his behaviour doesn't matter to me anymore - 'cos in three weeks time we will have moved and he won't know where we live.
He is still able to exert some control - he still refuses permission for me and kids to live in Scotland so that will be another court date that he won't turn up to - but we'll leave that just now because that doesn't matter at the moment What matters is that we are finally free of him, finally have financial security and can finally plan a future. You always think you know how you're going to react on these days - I thought I'd probably collapse in a heap, wailing but no. It was almost as if a warmth slowly crept over me (and no - I hadn't wet myself!)- seeing those signatures and drinking in the reality of what that meant - security for me and the children and a future. Holidays can now be planned - trips to the theatre or to concerts planned but most of all I will be not worrying every time the post comes that its another bill I can't pay or worrying if something goes wrong with the car I can't get it fixed and just at that moment of realisation what I most wanted to do in the world was hug my children becasue we've come through this nightmare together. I've not been able to stop smiling since - like a massive depression and weight has just lifted. My solicitor has advised that i probably could have got more if we had adjourned - which I knew, but this was never about getting as much as I could possibly get- it was about security for me and the children and that I now have. 003.5 still doesn't realise what he's lost - I don't mean me, I mean the children. He once told me that a cynic is "someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". I believe he was defining himself. I on the other hand have found throughout this lengthy and drawn out process what I always knew -that family is everything and that I'm fortunate enough to have a great family - even if they live hundreds of miles away - they're always there for me, for us. So I for one will be celebrating every October 20 because whilst to most people it was probably an unremarkable day - for me it was the day I got my life back.