Home > Uncategorized > The Business of Fixing Broken

The Business of Fixing Broken

Once upon a time I was married to the love of my life, but then he left, and there went life as I knew it. Up until he left I had just spent an entire year carefully and methodically planning how I would maneuver through my life’s next big chapter – law school, which I’d known even then would require a fine balancing act juggling family, work, school and a commute that would make your head spin. I was excited, scared but excited, and ready. I’d already drawn up color coded schedules and posted them all over the house. I thought of everything. I had it all figured out, at least I thought I did.

What I didn’t plan for was my husband announcing he was leaving me the day before school started. I didn’t make a plan for that. Now in hindsight I probably should’ve seen that coming, but I really didn’t, not then. That week leading up to his actual exit and flight back to California, 1700 miles away from our family and the life we built together, my children and I watched him angrily pack as many things as he could as though he were trying to wipe our home clean of not only his presence, but his existence from our family for those last 18 years. It was horrible. And painful. Two decades of my life, hard work, and devotion were coming undone and for all the mastery I claimed in problem solving and running a solid family ship – my life had fallen from underneath me and there was nothing I could do. I was floored, and utterly broken.

The only thing I knew how to do, the only thing I felt I could do was keep moving. There were just too many balls in the air and I had worked too hard to get as far as I was not to. So I shelved my emotions and went into damage control mode. I trashed a year’s worth of planning and simply started figuring it out, one day at a time. I did what I had to do. I went through the motions, got up every day, combed my hair (sometimes), dropped the kids off at school, met my deadlines at work (sometimes), sat in meetings, struggled through class every night, got home and listened to my babies tell me about their day before they went to sleep 30 minutes later, and I even read 100 pages of torts and civil procedure before crashing out every week night never sooner than 2am. It was a rough go indeed. I was in a constant state of tired. Double expresso shots became a daily part of my routine.

The details of how and why my now ex-husband and I got to that point, while not insignificant nor one-sided, mattered little to me and my children in the year that followed. We were all too hurt, too stunned, too overwhelmed to care that there was actually a “why” to what we were going through. As a parent you always want to make your children’s lives easier, here I realized their lives had only become harder. I wasn’t the only one who’d lost life as I knew it. Together we bore the responsibility of filling the void their father left us with. The kids had to learn how to cook, fend for themselves while I was in class, , and then there was the family business my oldest sons and I had to sort through. My kids were paying a high price because their dad decided to bail and I still wanted to go to school. It hurt me to know that I couldn’t do much more than I was already doing to make their lives easier. Just hanging in there felt like it was exceeding my bandwidth. I couldn’t save the kids, I was barely saving myself.

That first year he was gone I learned lessons I resented having to learn and not just because some were a direct result of him leaving, but also because I had to learn them all on my own, without a partner to lean on or root for me. Single mom-ming it was exhausting, still is. Family decisions are intended to be made my two parents to think through and execute. I hated making those decisions by myself. And then there was law school, which was a beast all of its own.  I quickly learned that getting in law school was only a fraction of the battle. That first year of school is designed to weed out the weak and I found myself struggling to stay above the curve and clear of end of semester cuts. I felt like that guy who barely made the football team and has to keep checking the regularly updated roster to make sure he didn’t get cut. My brain always felt like it was on, thinking, studying, and essentially trying not to lose my shit at any given moment. I’m certain I didn’t sleep much that year.

I dealt with my pain the best way I knew how, a little at a time, in the privacy of my car, sometimes in the bathroom stall on a bad day, but mostly in bed. I was really just trying to keep my pain in check, if you believe that’s possible, because I was always keenly aware that if I wasn’t careful, my pain would swallow me up whole. The worst of heartaches have that power, to bring you to your knees, gasping for air between uncontrollable sobbing, while you claw at a phantom pain you’ve imagined in your chest. I had some close calls, sobbing in the dark, trying hard not to be swallowed up whole.

Accepting that my marriage was finally over was incredibly hard for me. I had devoted 18 years to keeping my family together, I didn’t understand what happened. I couldn’t reconcile how I could work so hard and yet everything still fell apart. I questioned all of my values, struggled with my personal beliefs and definitions of “unconditional,” “commitment,” and “always.” I hurt for what my wedding vows were reduced to. I finally realized I was trying to find logic where there was none. So one day, I just stopped and accepted that life…happens. People change. They break promises. And sometimes marriages end. And that’s okay. You have to let it be.

If there’s something I learned along the way, it’s that what you tell yourself about yourself and your circumstances has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. So every day I told myself everything would be alright, that my kids would be okay, and that I was going to be okay. I didn’t believe it every day I said it, but every day I worked towards making that my truth, until it was. It took me a while, but eventually I found a new rhythm for my life, a different routine that I could live with, that I was happy with, that my children were happy with. Actually, I think it’s the same routine, it’s just me that’s different. I changed. I became a better version of myself, prompted by the challenges I was faced with in some of the worst moments of my life. I gave myself permission to let go and imagine what I wanted the rest of my life to look like, post- divorce, and to my pleasant surprise, it was a little bit of liberating.

Some time ago someone asked me, “You’re doing a lot. You’ve been through a lot. Is it still worth it?” My answer – absolutely. I learned that no matter how well you think you’ve planned it, life plans have a way of falling apart mid-flight. I learned that we all experience setbacks, some of them more painful and disappointing than others, but you survive them if you want to. I learned that, sure, there are moments that break your heart, sometimes a string of them bunched up together, but eventually those moments pass. Despite what I’ve lost, I know I’ve been gifted with so many other blessings and these days I’m working on spending more time appreciating what I have, instead of grieving over what I don’t. My kids, my family and friends, they’ve lent so much support, and their love and respect just fills my heart. And where I was once broken, I know I am no longer.

**Folks, don’t forget I gain a large portion of my readers by word of mouth. If  you like what you read, if I made you laugh, even cry, please do share my blog post. Forward it via email, Tweet it, Like it, Facebook post it, talk about it.** Much love, MS

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 7, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    Maria, first of all, I’m so pleased you are still writing. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your pain. It’s part of the healing. And I definitely appreciated it and as women, we can learn from each other and support each other. I admire your mindset, determination, guts, your goals and your strength! Keep on keepin’ on!

    • February 14, 2016 at 11:38 AM

      Cindy, I’m so glad we know each other. And I so appreciate that you root for me. Always, MS

  2. Donald Wise
    February 9, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    Maria- my youngest son died in a horrible car crash last year- Sept. 11, 2015- you are describing a lot of what I have been dealing with- my life has changed, but I must move on. It is hard to do, my first impulse is to “give up”, but I can’t. Maria- you have helped me a lot today. I am thinking about my son that is gone, but I am also thinking about what I still have- my “other” children- son and daughter and their families. I will now have to concentrate all of my energy on them- and me. Thank you.

    • February 14, 2016 at 11:55 AM

      Donald, your comment is most certainly the most humbling I’ve read for this post, and that’s after through reading hundreds thanks to Frank Somerville. But if I can make you (specifically YOU) and your day a little better, with all that you and your family have been through, if even just to engage you long enough for you to “hear” me tell you to keep moving and keep living…well, that notion lifts me up just the same.

      I cannot imagine experiencing the loss of a child, and I am so very sorry that you have to experience this. I wish I could offer you so much more than words, but since I cannot, from now and for as long as you need it I will pray for you to get through.

      I wish YOU and your family well. I wish you all the love and support YOU need to get through your loss. I wish YOU all the strength you need to carry your family, your other children, when and as they need you to. Most of all, I wish your heart peace. Always, MS

  3. B
    February 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    Maria,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your strength and wish you nothing but happiness. You are an inspiration.

    • February 14, 2016 at 11:56 AM

      Thanks, B. I sincerely appreciate you reading and your kind words. Always, MS

  4. Janis R.
    February 9, 2016 at 7:49 PM

    Mothers are the backbone of a family. Your resilience proves that in spades. Law school is bad enough when all you have to do is attend class. Juggling work, kids, and school is more than enough – outside of the emotional turmoil that you also experienced. Kuddos to you for sticking with it! Just think, the light is at the end of the tunnel. Us girls have to stick together and continue to support each other! Stay strong!

    • February 14, 2016 at 12:03 PM

      “Mothers are the backbone of a family.” <–. Mothers are resilient. Thanks for reading, Janis.

  5. Divina
    February 9, 2016 at 11:01 PM

    Hi Maritess! I read your blog when my brother Jr sent me the link. I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and congratulate you for you accomplishments for all of the hardship you went through. I know I shared some of those hardships and got back on track to be a mother & a role model for my kids. You know first hand what it was like dealing with demons and battling through it to provide for your family and to save yourself. I have been sober for over 7 years and I owe it all to my children’s father, Tony who stuck by me and made sure I stayed away from all of the bad influences in my life. I also wanted to apologize if I came in between your family at any given time. I wasn’t in my right mind & I know I was under the influence and I was selfish and I know that now. It’s great to see that you are working towards fulfilling your dream and I want to congratulate you. Your blogs are inspirational and I wish you the best of luck. Please extend my apologies to your sister. I miss her & our friendship very much & I should have never let a man or anyone come between us. Take care & God bless!

    • February 14, 2016 at 12:01 PM

      Hi Divina. Thanks for reaching our and so glad to hear you and your family are doing well. Congrats on your 7 years of sobriety. Our family dealt with my ex’s addiction and rehab about 15 years ago and outside of our eventual divorce, that period of our lives was probably the next hardest. Good on you for kickin’ that habit, and for Tony for sticking it out with you. (I’ve been Tony so I would fist bump him if I could.) Thanks for reading and I appreciate your kind words. Always, MS

  6. Cecilia Celso
    February 10, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    Maria – Thank you for eloquently writing my experience. I’m not good at communicating my experience into words, and yours is the best of many I’ve read on this subject. You’ve done, and will continue to do, the best for your children and, most importantly, for yourself. May life continue to shower you with love!

    • February 14, 2016 at 12:09 PM

      Cecilia, I appreciate you reading my post, and then for taking the added effort to comment and compliment me with such kind words. Always, MS

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