Charlie found a place to live, but asked if he could keep his things in the garage. I didn't see any harm in that, not realizing at the time that he simply wanted to keep one foot in the door, as he continued to find excuses to come over because he needed something out of the garage.
A mutual friend of his and mine, who Charlie grew up with, had just gone through a divorce himself and was trying to "help" me understand that I could not wash Charlie's clothes for him and do little things for him because he was mistaking my kindness as a weakness to continue to be in my life. I was torn about this, but later realized that this was very true.
Charlie was very cooperative. He was paying the bills and coming over to get the girls to spend time with them and seemed as though he was truly making an effort to change. He was still going to therapy and was keeping me up to date on his progress, all the while still pleading with me to give him one more chance. Seventeen years of marriage... one more chance... Would I ever regret not giving him ONE MORE CHANCE?
The paperwork came for the hearing date for the divorce. I caved. I drove to the courthouse and let them know that I would not be continuing the divorce proceeding. I allowed him to move back in and within one week, he was back to his old self again. I could not believe it. I received a call from one of my job applications, and after a very positive interview, started a new job and in the same breath, told Charlie to get back out of the house. I filed for divorce again, kicking myself for not keeping a copy of the first packet that I filled out only a few months prior.
Why was Charlie so willing to leave? Many people were told by him and think that it was out of the "goodness of his heart" that he "gave" the house to me. In reality, he received over $40,000.00 cash and his untouched retirement benefits, which I was entitled to share, all of his almost 900 hours of PTO time, half the amount of alimony that the court ordered him to pay and all of his guns, which value at well over $20,000.00 or more. I received the house... no cash... but was happy to be able to keep the house for the girls and me. Charlie knew he was guilty of abuse... guilty of years of abuse to me and the girls were old enough to share with the courts and could answer any questions they had in regards to our life with Charlie.