Here is a difficult one. How do you get justice without harming the one who made your life incredibly difficult? A big question and I hope we have managed it.
It was a matter of thinking not only of our own, but of our opponent’s welfare and finding a balance. You may have guessed, it’s about the builder who abandoned us, taking all our money, forcing us to renovate the house he’d pulled apart without the benefit of money to do so. He ignored our calls, texts and emails for weeks, eventually the threat of legal action got a response, but more artful negotiating, which involved diminishing the sum owed was needed for half that money to be returned.
It involved calmly responding to angry texts, a nasty telephone call in which he derided my character, shouting so loudly my wife across the room could hear every word. I calmed him, which wasn’t easy. Suddenly he turned again, issued hidden threats, making me, an old man with huge health problems, feel incredibly vulnerable, which made me say people here like me. It was what he’d been after and he instantly accused me of threatening him and said he was now proceeding with legal action!
Already exhausted from daily facing our dire situation, week after week for over four months, financially, physically and emotionally wrung-out, faced with a man whose continually wild and unpredictable actions have generated endless friction, my health had inevitably tumbled. Stress does that. Feeling vulnerable, under the care of three consultants, three visits to hospitals, dealing with serious conditions, I non-the-less had to resolve this issue and dug deep.
Rather than attack him or go on the defensive, I told him he was capable of rising and reviving, though his own life was unfairly in tatters. He deserved better. This instantly calmed him. He issued a figure he could afford to repay. That we had a further week on tender-hooks as a cheque arrived in the post, cleverly spoiled hence useless, so burned on video before the next was sent and that too was bad, incomplete, hence had also to be burned. And so the third cheque was sent, arriving late on a Friday, too late for the banks. Sunday night a flurry of texts blackmailing us to do this or that or the cheque would be cancelled. Calm, collected, I issued a final deadline of payment by Tuesday night or there’d be irreversible and devastating legal action.
It was something I had not wanted, so had avoided all along. Who wants to destroy another? Various friends said, “To hell with that, it’s your money, he deserves the consequences.” But I couldn’t, unless pushed absolutely.
I told the builder that all contact had to end, the money had to come or…. It was a gamble. My heart sank. I was concerned for his future…. Monday noon our bank approved his third cheque, Tuesday, money was in our account.
We sent a colourful card wishing him well. Is that the end? One hopes so, but he didn’t like having to repay our money and he’s angry, very, very angry, even though I compromised by letting him keep 22% of our money. That was four days ago. We are exhausted, we need a break, but we still have two more weeks of work before this house can receive our furniture. Each morning is tough, we rise, face the work, plod on. We have no option. Each night, shattered, we shower, cook, eat, fall into deep sleep. It is relentless. We are drained in every way, we still face the dreadful possibilities of my health, but we rise above self-pity. It isn’t easy. We have to keep psychologically alert to this egotistical tendency, but it is worth it for despite feeling drained, you are awake to life’s positives and its possibilities.