Don’t Call it a Comeback; post divorce life

We don’t talk enough about the statistics of divorce in parenting disabled children.

After the demise of my marriage I often lamented that one of the downfalls of my relationship was that I constantly felt underestimated by my ex.

I’ve done a lot of healing and self reflection post divorce and I need to acknowledge that I severely underestimated myself too. And that was actually the biggest limitation.

I thought I couldn’t balance a full time career and being a full time caregiver to Haley while doing both well. And I am not a halfway person as anyone who knows me will attest to.

I grew up relatively poor. My father abandoned us when I was 11. I was a teen mom. I had a second child at 22 and I lived in income based housing. I thought that I would never amount to anything. Society basically wrote me off. In adulthood I’ve realized that I was judging my entire worth based on the singular factor of how I contributed to the economy; my earning potential. My future was bleak.

Against the odds, in our early 20’s my ex husband and I stabilized. We found jobs post college, bought a house, got married, had another child (Haley). Life just went on. We made friends. I left my FT career, worked part time and committed myself to supporting my ex’s career advancement and contributing to our family in a caretaking role.

We coped with Haley’s diagnosis, challenges of parenting, how to support one another, how to prioritize etc very differently. But without ever being able to accept and/or respect our differences. Only criticism and self righteousness.

At some point the threads holding our marriage together began to unravel. We realized that although we had built this life together, we had been living it in a parallel way, never intersecting. The problem with a “divide and conquer” strategy is in the division, rather than connection.

As divorce began to seem inevitable I left teaching dance for a PT job with more career growth in my desired field in the cannabis industry in 2015.

Having had fought so hard for cannabis access in MA it seemed like a full circle moment to join a team as their very first employee. It gave me an opportunity to be part of building the foundation of an industry that I fought so hard to bring into existence.

As I noted in the blog post “Hindsight is 2020”, I was laid off from that job in March 2020, the week that Covid hit, after a series of acquisitions, mergers and assisting with taking the company public. I floundered. Felt like I lost my footing and wasn’t sure I could find anything else. That self derision is a powerful force and can drag you backward in a blink.

But! I regrouped. And even in the midst of Covid and hiring freezes, I landed on my feet. Better company. Better fit. Career advancement. I’ve watched my child model resilience, maybe I’ve learned a thing or two from her.

I’ve continued to advance, and now work at an executive level balancing work, parenting, life better than I ever imagined I could.

It’s been 5 years now. Last year I closed on the first home that my name has ever been on a deed for. (Even though we owned multiple homes throughout the course of my marriage. That’s a long backstory story of things you allow when you abandon yourself that doesn’t need to be rehashed in detail).

I’m pinching myself every day still that I have built this life on my own. With self worth blossoming, and staying committed to my priorities and doing right by my children.

I lamented often that for years I had no voice. Not only have I found my voice, but I’ve learned to trust it. To let it take up space. Not to please other people, but to be true to myself. In work, in parenting, in friendships and relationships. I no longer resort to self doubt as an instinct.

But. I refuse to call it a comeback, because it was in me all along. It wasn’t until I learned to trust and believe in myself that I could show it to the world. Now I show up fully, multidimensional, personally and professionally. And my promise to myself: I will never be the first person to underestimate my value again.

On our trip to Miami to celebrate Haley’s sweet 16. I’ll never again forget to model a life I’d want them to live.

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