At Raylan's request, I changed my name to Lisa Hartman when we married. Seven years ago that shared name created a tremendous amount of emotional havoc in my life. Even today, I find myself still teary eyed by the thought. Greta and her husband Sal, got into severe debt - most of it incurred by Greta in the name of Lisa Hartman. When Greta secured the debt, she listed Raylan and our address as her closest living relative.
When Greta made those two decisions and then stopped paying her bills, disconnected her phone (listed as Lisa Hartman) and moved - the consequences landed directly in my lap to deal with all on my own. Greta's creditors assumed that I must be Greta - I was Lisa Hartman and living with her closest "relative"!
For twelve months Greta's creditors hounded me. Eventually it got so bad that I unplugged our home phone and never plugged it back in. Raylan talked to Greta a couple of times. She was sympathetic, but clear that she didn't want them to know her whereabouts. Greta felt that it would eventually pass. Easy for her to say since they were hounding me not her. Instead of telling her that was not going to happen - Raylan agreed and asked that I go along with her wishes. I also agreed to continue taking the bullet, all the while seething with resentment and anger toward Greta.
At one point, Greta's creditors went to a whole new level; brazenly walking into our backyard during a dinner party. The man asked to talk to Lisa Hartman. I walked over - yes? He loudly said "I need to talk to you about payment for your deliquent financial obligations." I was livid - I lost it! Raylan rushed over and said it's my ex-wife you're looking for - you need to leave NOW!
Two days later, a undercover police officer showed up at our door. He flashed his badge.
Cop: You, Lisa Hartman?
Cop: Lisa Maiden Hartman?
Me: NO I am not!
Cop: Unless you can show me your license to prove you're not her, I'll have to arrest you!
Whether he had the authority or not is another question. At the time, I was so shocked, angry, upset, that I handed over my license to get rid of him. All the while shaking, with tears welling up in my eyes. The Cop wrote down all my info. Before leaving, threatened he would be back to arrest me if he found I had lied to him.
Raylan would call Greta again - asking her to take care of the situation. Instead Greta told him that she was surprised it hadn't passed. She indicated that we could tell them she was living in the County, but that's all she felt she could do.
I was faced with a choice - continue protecting Greta - getting more and more angry about it or do what I could to control my part of the situation. I chose control. I changed our home voice mail message and posted a note on our front door. Both messages alerted Greta's creditors that I was not the Lisa Hartman they were seeking. That person was Greta; she could be found at this address and phone number. All future attempts to collect her debt need to be directed to Greta.
Today I don't blame Greta or Raylan for my choice to cover for her. I ultimately made the choice. Greta didn't comprehend or understand the depth of what she was asking of me to do for her, which meant she appreciated it even less. I should have dealt with it immediately. The results would have ultimately been the same - Greta talking to me with clinched teeth for over a year.
The lesson learned for me: don't do things for others that you resent doing - don't expect someone else to see the huge sacrifice you're making for them, they rarely see it that way! I can only control my side of the fence! Had I done that initially I wouldn't have this story to tell and all the feelings to go along with it.