I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to write this over the last few years. One of the hardest parts has been where to begin. It’s one of the big reasons why I end up shutting my laptop and staying quiet a bit longer. I’ve struggled with where to start. So much has happened since we last spoke, but then someone told me, “just start.” Two little words that can lead to so much more. Just start. Because if you don’t you’ll never move forward. Simple as that. So here it goes…
There are very few people who know everything that has happened in the last 3 years. Who really know everything. I’ve chosen to stay quiet for a few reasons. One, I needed time to focus on myself and my girls. I needed time to rebuild…everything. Most importantly I needed to rebuild myself. That is something I absolutely want to speak more on because the amount of neglect we inflict on our own inner foundation when we become a mother is troubling, but there’s another reason I stayed silent, one not quite as admirable. Fear. I didn’t even realize that my voice was being commandeered over time but as I sit here today I can look back and see it clear as day. Another thing which is clear to me now is that taking back my voice back is a vital piece in my puzzle. Without it, there will always be a hole. So, after years of baby steps, hard work and massive love & support (in the most unexpected of places) I’m finally strong enough to tell that fear to fuck itself. I can do this.
Like I said, It’s actually not hard to say when I began to lose sight of myself. Three years ago my ex husband and I separated. At first, it seemed we could be one of the rare couples who had a mutually respectful collaborative divorce. I, naively so, actually believed this was possible. Believing in the good is probably what I held onto the longest. Eventually though, I couldn’t ignore the truth.
Our last mutual conversation was regarding how to handle our nice family image on both my blog and his radio show. We agreed we should look into hiring a PR agent to consult on a joint statement. I went to sleep that night actually thinking we might actually be ok. Shocked is not a big enough word to describe what I felt the next morning when I learned that he had decided to announce our divorce on his syndicated radio program. And he didn’t just announce it. He, for reasons I still cannot understand, decided to create an entire narrative about us where I was the nastiest, gold digging, cruel wife & mother. He sobbed on the air that he had come home to find me, the kids, the dogs and all of the money in our safe gone. Years later one of his co-hosts who I remained friends with told me that he wrote the entire speech out on index cards, including notes on when to start crying.
I went from being a small scale public figure who had received primarily positive commentary from women who loved and supported her to someone who was publicly shredded apart. Hundreds of horrible comments and messages flooded my inbox and social media. They ranged from women being disappointed because they believed I had sold them a fake image of myself as a good mother & wife to death threats. One person found my home address and sent me a letter saying they wished I would get HIV and die so my children could be with their father. Some people found the holes in his story and figured out there was no way it could all be true but most took it at face value. After all, a father crying telling you how he had his entire family stolen away is pretty darn convincing. Maybe if it had stopped there I could have been ok but it didn’t. I often lay in bed worrying about what long term effect this is going to have on my girls. However, one thing I discovered I could change was myself and how I’m going to handle a set of circumstances that are out of my control. I haven’t done it perfectly by any means but with guidance & unconditional love I slowly started to witness the regeneration of the strong woman who I thought had shriveled up and given up long time ago.
Last week Sam decided she wanted Sims 4 for her 10th birthday. TEN! Can you believe that?! That kid has grown up to be such an incredibly smart, funny and intriguing young lady, I can’t wait to tell you more about her! The game needs to be installed on a computer but when I tried to do so it said I had to free up space, I had my husband take a look (yep, you heard me right…so much catching up to do!!!) and he found that I had a bunch of large videos taking up the majority of my disk space. He asked if he could delete them but having no idea what they were of I wanted to take a look first. I was shocked & horrified by what I saw. I can honestly say I had completely forgotten, I’ve learned the brain is an amazing organ which sometimes chooses to forget as a survival mechanism, and this I definitely wanted to forget. What I saw was heart breaking. I saw a sad, broken, weak excuse for a woman who had allowed herself to be controlled and manipulated. All of the memories I had been trying to forget came flooding back as I watched. The worst is in almost all the videos my sweet girls are with me. When I think about what they’ve been exposed to it breaks my heart, I can only hope one day they’ll look back with compassion and feel that their mother did the best she could. Maybe that’s what we all hope for.
It was awful. The tailspin of events after I rarely speak about. I’m torn between this nagging, persistent inner voice that wants to use my story to help other women survive their worst moments but I also want to protect the ideals my girls still desperately need. I’m still working on balancing the two.
As overused as the phrase is it does seem to be true…things happen for a reason. There is a lot of waiting involved in the process of rebuilding a person. I heard a song which had the lyrics “Be the girl you loved” and suddenly the next steps became perfectly clear. I made it my mantra. I had spent years shaping myself to be what I thought someone else wanted but now I had the chance to find that silly little girl who I desperately missed. One thing I loved to do but had quit was to get outside and explore. I can remember so many childhood camping trips in the Smokies where I’d spend hours exploring streams and trails, I truly loved it back then, so I figured maybe I could find the same joy in it now, which led to me joining a hiking group here in D.C.
There was no way I could know that on that first hike on the Billy Goat Trail I would meet an amazing man. No way I could know that on that same trail he would later propose or one day I’d hike that trail with him, my beautiful girls and a baby boy in my belly. I couldn’t have known. In fact I didn’t even let myself dare to dream that it could be my future. I wasn’t yet capable of believing I deserved that kind of love and joy, but what I was capable of doing was taking the next step in the right direction. One small next right decision at a time. I decided to just start.
And here we are…
To be perfectly honest I’m scared because I don’t know where this post will lead. I’m afraid to open myself up again but I believe it’s time. It’s the next right decision.
I’m certain that I’ll be met with the tactic of fake social media accounts being created to spread rumors about me or perhaps anonymous postings in chatrooms with details of my personal life which could only be known by certain people. After all, those tactics almost worked to destroy me once before, why not try them again. But just like before, I can take a small leap with the faith that God will guide me on the right path for a bigger plan. I can’t, I won’t, let my fear dictate my decisions any more.
As I mentioned before I do desperately want to share more because one thing I do know is that my pain, and perhaps even my girl’s pain, can help another woman and her beautiful little ones to avoid the extent of what we’ve been through and survived. There’s so much more to share. Right now though, all I know is I had to start speaking because my voice that was the last piece of me I needed to recover. Perhaps there’s still a chance I can teach my daughters to be the amazing, strong, incredible women I know they’re capable of being if I show them their mother is capable of that too.
In the meantime I want to use this blog to share one small part of myself which I love, (did you know it’s ok to say that there’s a part of yourself that you love and is awesome enough that other people would want to hear about it?? I wasn’t able to, and it even feels weird to say it now, perhaps that’s another post for another time…) it’s my creativity. There have been so many projects the girls and I have worked on which afterwards they almost always ask if I can post it on Little Pink Monster, from creating Sophie’s whimsical garden bedroom to Sam’s school of sharks silhouette walls, a hot summer day of popsicle recipes or how we’re doing “try something new Wednesday” dinners in the desperate hope of fighting pickiness, it’s all things I used to write about and never stopped missing. Am I scared of what will happen by speaking up and sharing my truth? Hell yes. But I now know I have the tools to find the strength to handle whatever comes my way.