On Wednesday I had a meeting with my solicitor, a pensions actuary and my husband's barrister. I had been told to expect my husband and his solicitor in the virtual meeting room.
(Yes, that's right. Over 4 years since my separation I still don't have a Decree Absolute and still no financial settlement. Consequently, life is very difficult for myself and my sons.)
The meeting was scheduled for 12pm to suit my husband's requirements. However, he didn't turn up and no apologies were made. Instead, he sent his barrister rather than his solicitor.
Of course, the reason my husband didn't turn up is that he is too afraid to face me himself. Too afraid I will call him out in front of other professionals.
Anyway, during the course of the meeting, my husband's barrister treated me like he was at court hearing. Trying to qualify everything I said in a condescending manner ("I think what Mrs Turley is trying to say is...") and, at one point, when I said that the report needed greater clarity so that a layman could understand it, he said he'd never heard of the word "layman".
I assume the point of this rather pathetic act was to try and make me feel foolish and undermine my confidence. Of course, I knew the word existed and that I had used it in exactly the right context. So, I just raised my eyebrows to express my disbelief that the barrister didn't (apparently) know such a word.
The barrister's condescending manner continued. By the end of the meeting, I was tearful and could hardly speak.
Ever since an image has been replaying over and over in my mind. It is the image that accompanies the words below of George Orwell in 1984:
“There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget this, Winston— always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever. ”
I think it is time to rewrite that quote:
“There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget women of this world, men will always be intoxicated by power. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on a woman who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a man's boot stamping on a woman's face— forever. ”
That readers is the sad truth. The physical strength of men has made them kings, rulers and politicians throughout history. Women all over the world are subjugated by men. Their genitals are mutilated, they are assaulted, raped and murdered to satisfy the lust and greed of men. Women are second class citizens ruled by men and their egos.
I am tired of being the understanding, empathetic wife doing the "right thing" and conforming to my Catholic upbringing and traditional values.
I am a very patient person. But on Wednesday something finally snapped. I am done with being a patient, empathetic woman. I am not going to be bullied by my husband or his barrister. I don't care if I walk away with nothing from my marriage because I will have the love of my children and I will still have my voice.
No one is going to stamp on my face anymore.
And I will use my voice to its best effect.