Walk a mile in my shoes.

Come with me, through Respryn woods, along the River Fowey and share what I thought of today.

In 1997, after five abusive years, I picked up my two kids and left. I left a man with in excess of 2 million pounds worth of assets who then took me to court for custody of our daughter and kept me in and out of court for the next four years. Each time, he would turn up with a barrister and as I was not entitled to legal aid, turned up and defended myself, until, in desperation I too hired a barrister. Each ’bout’ cost us about £7,000 for a few hours or so in front of a judge. Every time we did this, with no money, all we could do was remortgage the house. Anyone with children would have done the same. In the end, we spent almost £25,000 just to stop him taking my daughter away from me with no reason but spite. So we got into the spiral of debt.
We initially bought the only house we could afford in a district of Plymouth called Keyham (btw – I left my ex with nothing but scars and our clothes), nice enough but not a safe area. We worked hard, renovated our home and moved to the only house we could afford in a good area of Stoke, another district in Plymouth. We replaced every downstairs floor joist, all the render and plaster, we built and extension, installed a kitchen and bathroom and carpeted the place. At the same time, I had two jobs and went to Exeter university to get my English degree. Like many modern students, my education also added to my debts.
I reflected on my life, my walk as I walked the dogs today. There are people who read this, who have known me for years, who will vouch for what I say. I haven’t run up debts on designer handbags, but clothes for work, shoes for my kids and keeping a roof over our head………..especially when we found dry rot and had to have a new one built! I don’t drive a Mercedes, I drive a Fiat. I bought a four bedroomed house as five adults moved into it in 2007 when we bought it! I renovated the entire of the house I now live in for five thousand pounds and as it had cat piss stained pink shag pile carpet and groovy wall paper and smelt like and old people’s home……..I had little choice but to do the place up.
We did holiday for four years in France and my exam marking money paid for it. I haven’t run up debts being extravagant; I just used to kid myself that I could afford to have the heating and lights on at the same time! Both my kids went to ‘good schools’ and every school trip, choir tour, £100 blazers!!! were bought with credit cards if I couldn’t afford them and the kids had to have them.
We then moved house, when I got a new job in Cornwall in the property boom of 2007, when house prices were at their peak and we ended up with a huge mortgage. Cornwall is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK and I had no option but to take out a 200K mortgage! Then prices of: food, fuel, utilities etc went sky high and suddenly we were financially worse off. After having a mortgage application for a smaller house refused, we decided to pay off what we owed and drastically change our life style. We have halved our debts since doing that but the privations are extreme. We could have taken a softer longer journey but I prefer the short term pain. My family and friends have supported me every step of this rocky journey as have people who read this blog, and for that am I extremely grateful.
Even my work place have embraced my lifestyle, allowing me to teach the kids ‘real’ cooking on a budget as a school activity. Colleagues who read my blog have taken up tutoring and a more frugal lifestyle to pay off their debts and people openly talk about the money they owe and how they want to get off the ‘commercial’ money go round and live differently. People I work with proudly show me their charity shop finds and how they made a few quid on Amazon and Ebay.
As I turned the corner in Respryn woods today and saw this sign, I looked into the distance and saw the castle and even though it looked so close, it was still up hill. My castle is now in sight, but it’s still up hill. I still have further to go than the distance I have travelled and the terrain gets rougher as I push myself harder. We are getting better at doing more with even less, better at earning more money and better at living ethically and with less impact on the planet. I genuinely appreciate the words of support that came with me on my walk today; I don’t do it alone.

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34 thoughts on “Walk a mile in my shoes.

  1. Time and again you pull yourself up by little more than your bra straps and soldier on, and I am immensely proud to shout from the rooftops that I am blessed to be your friend!!
    I can vouch for everything you have posted today, and am so grateful to you for showing me and MW a way off the merry-go-round. After the weekend, when the dust has settled: tea, cake, hugs, dogs. I'll bring the cake and the hugs. Love you. xxxxx

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  2. You have obviously been through some tough times, and deep inside there is a strength pulling you through it all – you can “hear” it in your words.
    Your frugal lifestyle is a fantastic example to the children you now teach, some will really learn that from you, although they may not realise that themselves yet.

    Off topic from your post, but just wanted to say we absolutely love Restormel Castle and the views around, a favourite place to walk when we are in Cornwall.

    Wishing you strength and blessings as you continue your walk. From someone who only knows you through your blog and for a short time too. Take care xxx

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  3. I was delighted to find this post from you. It was good of you to share all that with us. Its obvious someone has questioned your lifestyle but you owe nobody an explanation really. My admiration for you has increased even more. Expect more comments from me now I have signed up to blogger. Hope you dont get sick of me. I wish I could join you for the tea, hugs and dogs (no cake though I am on Weightwatchers LOL).
    I love all your pictures of Cornwall its a beautiful place and I have spent a few happy holidays there.

    Keep up the good work. x

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  4. YAY!! You posted!! I am so happy to find this post as I feared you'd gone on hiatus and I'd miss your daily input to my life.

    I said it before, sod them all.

    You've justified yourself in this post, but really, you had no need to. Conversely, thank you for sharing so much, so candidly.

    I am also going to make more of an effort to coment regularly, simply because I feel it is important to let you know you're supported and cheered on in internet land, as well as in real time.

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  5. I'm so very glad you bounced back enough to post this and didn't retreat in pain and hurt.
    Good for you, big high 5 and a pat on the back!
    Thankyou for sharing so honestly, you should be very proud.

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  6. I could (insert expletive here) those people who think that debt is like – I dunno, the deserving or undeserving poor (repulsive concept). There but for the grace of God and all that.

    I think it's not what you do when things go right a but how you behave when things go wrong – it isn't what you did to get in debt – its what you do to get out of it.

    Kudos to you for dealing with everything else that caused you financial grief/disadvantage.

    Self-worth and contentment with your lot are priceless. Also, they say that living well is the best revenge 🙂

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  7. Thank you for writing today but I can feel the hurt and anger in your words.Its not fair that someone has made you explain how you got into debt it should have remained private however it has made me admire you even more.
    I too had not commented before today,i was just happy reading and being inspired by your words.
    Stay strong and please continue your incredible journey.x

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  8. I kept checking your blog throughout the day at work and now I am at home I have just checked again expecting to see more comments on your last post. I am really glad that you posted again. As everyone else has said you do not need to justify yourself, that is your business.
    You have made me feel a bit foolish – I talk about wanting a more frugal lifestyle, but I don't have any debt just lots of outgoings soon to happen. So I do hope you continue and inspire me and lots of other people to save money and live more simply.
    Keep positive and focused and ignore the negative and rude *x@!'s.

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  9. Just logged into my reader and found this and the last post together. I was tempted to say to you tell them to shove it but in all honesty don't tell them anything. They are insignificant. You are winning on so many levels and they just don't matter. Just be the better woman and rise above it.

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  10. I'm delighted you've posted again. Your blog is truly inspirational and your journey incredible. I adore your Kenwood mixer, just as well we live miles apart or you may have had a fight on your hands! Keep up the good work, I'm not bad but could do miles better.
    xxx

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  11. You dont have to justify yourself to anyone. I am so cross that you've been made to feel this way. You're working hard to deal with your situation and you've done so well. You inspire me, you are so much more frugal than I am and I thought I was pretty “old style”. All that matters is you and your family, nothing/no-one else. 🙂

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  12. You obviously felt that you had to justify your life to someone who had questioned your motives, that was not necessary, I took you as you were and so should others. Someone who bravely decided to get off the roundabout and clear your debts, the reasons you did this were yours and yours alone, I salute you for being so strong minded and cutting your coat according to your cloth. There are many others who should do the same, we would not be in the mess we are if there were more responsible people about.

    Your determination to clear your debts made me question my own way of looking at money. I too have taken a long hard look at the way we have been spending money, I needed a kick up the bracket to face what I already knew and make arrangements to clear my credit card and pay off my overdraft.

    Thank you for being my inspiration, everytime I read your blog it spurs me on to squeeze as much as I can out of what we have and pay back our debts.

    I look forward to your next post and going along with you on your journey whilst making my own to debt freeness.

    I admire you immensely…….you deserve to succeed…….

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  13. No justification needed, like you my debt has been keeping myself and my children going, and a bad marriage which left me in debt, You are a strong woman to have had tolive your life have you have, but having to live you life that way has made you into the strong woman you are even though sometimes you may not recongnise it. Like you siad you can see your castle, dontlet anything get in your way x

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  14. Can you see me doing the Rikki Lake dance. It's not pretty but it might make you laugh.
    You have given so many people inspiration, including myself, I am glad they have all given you some of that back today.xxx

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  15. Atta Girl – fight back and fingers up to em! There was absolutely no need for you to speak so openly about your 'past' life, and yet you did. I hope it acts as some sort of release from the anger and hurt that you showed in your earlier post.
    Bo@@o@s to the person who made you feel this way, but look out for more hugs coming to you from my part of Cornwall. XX

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  16. I've only recently found your blog and was saddened to think the cruel words of one idiot may have put an end to it. So pleased to see you back and like you we have debts which are not down to extravagence but daily necessity from raising four children and supporting them through college or uni. We have had one short break to Dorset in the past 10 years and I can't remember the last time I shopped for clothes for myself in a shop. I take great pride in searching out bargains from CS, boot sales etc and will be going to a party tomorrow in a little Laura Ashley number acquired from a CB …. nobody else will know but who cares anyway. Keep up inspiring us all x

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  17. You don't have to justify yourself to your friends or anyone else for that matter. You are an inspiration, a lovely lady and a lady that has had shit thrown at her and soldiered on instead of expecting someone to sort it for you. You are a strong woman and we think you are fab, so there !! You have realised what I finally realised 10 years ago, contentment is the key to happiness.
    Keep posting.
    Twiggy x

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  18. Yay! Good on you as they say here in NZ! Thank you for sharing this post today, as others have said you didn't need to justify yourself at all. But I reckon what you have said will ring true with so many people, why do you think we all follow you! Heck you are the veritable Pied Piper of frugalness! 😀

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  19. Glad to see your post tonight. You don't need to justify yourself to anyone, everyone has their own reason for debt, but not everyone makes a special effort to get out of it – you are making the effort, that's the difference. Keep on posting and tell the troll to f**k off and mind their own business. xx

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  20. A walk often restores me to my normal (is there such a thing?) self too. Yours took you on a lovely journey by the looks of it, with the wise old trees giving you wisdom and strength…good for you and keep up the very hard work of turning the other cheek!

    Now…whats in the freezer for tea??? hee hee. xxx

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  21. Hooray! I think abusive relationships are such a confidence sapper that subsequent insults are felt so much more keenly and slights agonised over. I know all this as I've been there! But my mantra these days about people who insult and put others down for no good reason and usually due to their own insecurities is “I don't value their opinon so it doesn't bother me”! It's not always easy I know but I refuse to allow bitter, unkind or vindictive people to have an effect on me. Chin up and keep on keeping on which is all any of us can do. Oh and I agree with the other posts you don't have to justify yourself to anyone. If you ain't hurting anyone you're entitled to live your life exactly how you see fit – sorry to be so rude but stuff the negative people who bring others down! Hugs and still wishing you those sunny days and starry nights! X

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  22. YOU ARE BLOODY WONDERFUL!! and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!! I don't know who said those awful things and nor do i wish to, but you are an inspiriation and if there were more people in the world like you the world would be a better place- sending virtual hugs.

    Sharron x

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  23. Another one moved to post a comment after your posts of Wednesday and Thursday. I found your blog at the beginning of the year, and really enjoyed reading back through your previous posts. I look forward to your posts daily, and admire your determination so much.

    We, luckily, aren't in the same situation, apart from the albatross-like mortgage we carry about, but I'm trying to explain to DH that we ought to be cutting back so we can attack the mortgage, or put some funds away for those rainy days which are bound to come.

    I do not understand why anyone should write hurtful things about you – you are honest, never nasty, and wholly admirable for the way in which you are tackling your situation.

    I will continue to look forward to your posts – long live the Queen!!!

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  24. We have just the one life and we do the best we can by it – it sounds like no matter what the situation you have fought on.

    take care and have a wonderful weekend,

    Nina x

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  25. i feel your hardship and how you have felt- you must feel so proud now though to do it all and be a stronger person for it x i left my partner (my daughters dad) and had nothing except a bag of baby clothes and bottles for milk!- i had no money in the bank and a fiver in my purse! i didnt know where to go or what to do- but you put your child first and try do the best you can…ive never looked back!!!!-i paid off debts and only now have small over draft.
    life is very very hard at times!
    but us woman are strong! more than we ever give ourselves credit for!.
    And i realised how fun charity shopping and markets were!…
    you have done an amazingly wonderful thing for your children- you put them first and you have made your life much more rewarding!
    i really loved your walk and i know keyham and stoke which you spoke of. Im not from plymouth but now live here- well for about 4 years. life is what you make it- and i always think of that when im low- cos if you dont get out there and make things better no one else can do it for you! ;0)
    have alot of respect for you xxxx
    *big hugs *

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  26. The property market is most symbolic of the problems in the financial world. There are horror stories of essential service people not being able to afford to live in certain areas. What is an expensive house worth when it is burning but you have priced the firemen out of the area?

    It has a lot to answer for in all circles.

    It's always great o read your blog, I love how open about everything you are. Thankfully my frugal days are over (I hope) but I wish I had had your inspiration at the time rather than the head down and slog and hope it ends that I had.

    Hopefully more people will find your blog and find the way to a better path too.

    Like

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