My SUV was packed, the motor was running and Delicious D, my daughter, was strapped in her car seat. She was barely a year old. I stood in a state of disbelief as my soon-to-be ex-husband stood on our front lawn staring at me with tears in his eyes and our black lab, Reilly, sitting next to him.
We'd just started out, so there weren’t many assets to divy up. He took the dog and I got the kid. The pragmatic finality of my marriage hit me like a gravitational force from the earth, sun and moon as I said goodbye to my husband, my home and the life I was proud to share as a wife and new mommy.
Although nothing was going to pull me under, the moment was deep and it was clear I was being thrust into the middle of a bad Lifetime TV movie.
Yet, as I was leaving our home, my strong strides toward my car were the first steps to my new forever (whatever/wherever that may be). And as the life I was comfortable with grew more distant in my rear-view mirror, a myriad of emotions closed in. I felt deceived, hurt, angry, frustrated, guilty and uncertain—oddly enough, fear had no room!
My parents lived 300 miles north of Los Angeles. They offered us their home while I got back on my feet, financially.
Within a month of living with my folks, I found myself employed as a production manager for a successful television production company. Delicious D and I moved into our first two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
The place came equipped with brand-new appliances such as a refrigerator, convection oven, microwave and a washer and dryer in our unit. The apartment complex was set atop acres of beautifully manicured green hills, and had a sparkling, Olympic-size pool and a spa with a full gym. It was a lovely, safe place we could call home, temporarily.
All along, I knew that particular place 300 miles north of Los Angeles would never be my home, and certainly not the place I wanted to raise my daughter. My days were long but I was determined to get back to the city where I left my heart. In 10 months I was able to save a nice chunk of change, sublet our apartment and make a beeline back to Cali!
Over the next 5 1/2 years I continued to live in survivor mode. There wasn't much room for anything else. I worked even harder to provide for us because the cost of living is much higher here in Los Angeles. Overnight, my rent doubled, my car and health insurance premiums increased, not to mention the utility bills and the astronomical price of gas.
Delicious D was growing up, and I had to pay for her extracurricular activities and after-school care. But more than that, I paid the highest price, because I was not able to spend enough quality time with her. Oh, how I coveted the role of a stay-at-home mom.
Be careful what you wish for…
The impact of being laid off over a year and a half ago, whether I manifested it or not, became deeper than any pocket I could imagine digging into. Yes, the time I spend with Delicious D is incomparable to any amount of money but at the same time I lost a bit of me, and now, quite possibly, our home.
Working from home is isolating, and while I was able to make ends meet by the skin of my teeth with freelance work, I was no longer proud of myself, and due to our weak economy the work stopped coming in as steadily. I also wasn’t using my brain in a way that fulfilled me. I became withdrawn, a bit depressed and I realized making real money helped me feel successful.
Recently my rent was increased (um, who the hell raises rent in this messed-up economy?), and I am now paying more in rent than most of my friends do for their mortgages. I am faced with having to move yet again, only this time without a full-time job or a savings account cushion.
Enter the eighth year of divorce, and the first real feeling of fear. I am no longer standing in a bad Lifetime TV movie. I’ve become one.
Through it all, I’ve never considered myself a victim, and while I may never provide Delicious D with the house on the hill, she will surely learn that the value of perseverance is invaluable.