The Sassy Investor: The $20,000 lesson my ex-partner taught me!  

The $20,000 lesson my ex-partner taught me!

By: Michelle Hung, The Sassy Investor

“I feel there is a boulder on my shoulder, and you are sitting on top of it"- I was expressing my resentment towards my (now) ex when I was trying to have that “other” talk with him – the money talk.

The “When are you going to start paying me back?” talk.

He simply brushed it off.

It was my fault that I did not see the writing on the wall. Then it took me another year or so before I finally pulled the plug.  Doing this is not easy when you’re 12 years into the relationship and you’ve invested so much. However, walking away was the best thing I have ever done for myself, because instead of thinking about the past 12 years I was thinking about the next 12 years.

Here’s a chronicle of the last decade or so:

Unemployed grad / investment banker / unemployed again / divorced / back home with the parents / dog died / hope / re-build/ aspiring author / depression / struggling entrepreneur / published author / keep going

While I can sit here and write a list of 100 regrettable things that I did in that 12-year relationship, it serves no purpose to dwell on it and kick myself for being young, dumb, and naive.  I can only be thankful for those lessons.

After all, it’s been almost four years since the relationship ended, and the last time I spoke with him to see if he is able to cough over something, it turned into a 30-minute pissing match which simply reminded me that we will never see eye-to-eye on anything. There is no point in arguing with a wall.

I will say, $20,000 is a nice chunk of change and I’ll never see that again. However, I’ve always told myself that I will make it back one way or another. Even if that meant sharing my experience and inspiring one person not to make the same mistakes I made. Being able to accomplish that alone is worth it.

So how did I end up $20,000 in the hole with him?

There were major purchases here and there, first and last month’s rent, helping him renovate his student house, tuition on courses– these all added up over a 12-year period. Anytime he needed money to make a big purchase or move money around in order to get more credit (he was a credit junkie), I was there.

Simply put, it was the lack of financial boundaries, lack of financial literacy at a young age, and being too generous that landed me in this hole. Putting his needs above mine.

Self-love and self-care are critical, regardless if you have kids, step-kids, and/or a spouse – you MUST look after your needs. You matter too! Saying NO will save a lot of headaches because you are setting the expectation that you will not be treated like an ATM machine or a maid, no matter how much they kick and scream.

Kicking and screaming are very short-lived.  Accumulated debt or resentment take a lot longer to recover, and can even produce severe consequences if not rectified. That was the biggest lesson I learned.

How have I dealt with this $20,000 loss?

There was a small part of me hoping that one day he’d wake up and realize the right thing and pay me back– I’m hopeful that way! I have accepted that will never happen. That’s the worst case. Am I fine without it? Absolutely. Could I use that just about now?– Of course, I’m an emerging entrepreneur, every penny counts!  In helping me forward, I had to acknowledge and accept that while I will never see a penny from him, I have done a good deed and helped him. Hanging on to vengeance, hate, and resentment serves no one, and it certainly won’t make them pay you back.

With any loss, acceptance and forgiveness (for yourself) are crucial.  If you choose to take the path of battling it out in court, just remember the outcome is out of your hands. How your ex responds is out of your hands. The only thing you control is you – how you act, behave, and feel.

I chose to let it all go.  And now, I have a story to write about and can share this experience with everyone.

…and if you’re wondering why haven’t I taken him to court?

If you’ve ever dated a narcissist, you’ll understand. There are no winners, it’s exhausting, and the mental toll it would have had on me will simply not be worth it. My sanity is worth way more than $20,000! Court battles destroy wealth – and I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of wealth transferred to lawyers and courts. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, what is this all worth?