The Day I turned 23

– A Journey of  Understanding

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just look at me, 23, knee deep in a marriage with depression trying to set in. “Fight Manosha. Don’t let her story be yours. That’s not what she wanted”, I told myself as I stood staring into the mirror. It was my 23rdbirthday but, I was in no mood to celebrate. Instead, my eyes were red and puffy from crying way too many tears. I was scared too. Crazy huh? Who gets scared of their birthday?! Me that’s who. My life was looking too much like my mother’s life at 22 and it scared the shit out of me.

2 young kids

Husband never around

Rocky relationship

Overwhelming feelings of sadness and loneliness

To top things off, our finances had been in dire striates for quite some time. At one point we were both working and happy. Somewhere in there, me and Mr. Ex had a fallout and he decided to move out. That lasted about a week. We got past it and were back together like nothing ever happened. Looking back now, I’m not even sure what happened to make he want to leave. Once back together we planned our second and final child. At the start of my pregnancy, I was deemed high risk and had to quit my job. After he was born we couldn’t afford a daycare for the boys. It was mutually decided that I would stay home and rear the children, run the house and Mr. Ex would work. Sounds like a good plan, right? It worked for a while.

I stayed home cooking, cleaning, singing ABC’s and 123’s. I made sure to make Mr. Ex’s lunch and literally run his bath water. He would go to work every day and on payday give me money for household supplies and things for the kids. He would even buy me my favorite flowers (circus roses) and random gifts just because. When he got overtime checks, we would go out to eat as a family.

But, somewhere in between the kids and work, we both started to drift off. Mr. Ex started to get burnt out with the repetitive cycle of work, work, pay. He was spending money on the house, kids and me but not much on himself. In turn, he started to hang out more and more with his unmarried, street hustling friends. He started drinking way more than usual. Then the problems started at work. He would be late and call in. He was getting fired left and right to the point where he was constantly changing jobs.

I, on the other hand, started to feel stuck. I had my first job at 13 so sitting still and not having my own money was very hard for me. Especially when Mr. Ex’s birthday and our anniversary would roll around. I would have to get money from him to buy him a gift. Not being able to financially contribute made me feel worthless. Then watching Mr. Ex’s downward spiral made me feel even worst. To compensate, I signed up for food stamps and section eight. No matter how low the workers made me feel, I couldn’t turn down the help because it kept our family afloat.  I carried the stress of my family on my back, so they wouldn’t feel it. I felt like I was to blame, and I felt worthless. I was once told that the man’s job was to lead his family and the woman’s job was to hold up her man. So, I asked, who holds up the woman? The answer, God.  Something had to change and since Mr. Ex seemed to be unmotivated to facilitate that change, it was up to me. I had to hold him up and let God hold me.

Luckily for me, my sister and cousin had decided to go to college. They invited me to join them and I accepted. I had started my Associate’s degree right out of High School but, quit. I was sure this would give me the fulfillment I longed for and my family the stability we needed.

“Okay, Manosha. You got this. Things may be similar but, there’s one huge difference, I  made it to 23 I can pick up where she left off and write a different ending”. I told myself as I wiped my eyes. “Never let them see you sweat”. Then I opened the door and walked out of the bathroom to embrace my 23’s.

In Need Of A Mother

– A Journey of Understanding

That moment you need someone but, they’re in heaven…and so, you cry instead…

-anonymous

I don’t know what I’m doing. What if I drop it or don’t feed it right? How can they trust me to take home such a fragile being? Hell, I never even had a mother, how am I supposed to know how to be a mother? These thoughts just kept swirling through my mind. I was 24 hours into labor awaiting the birth of my first child.

I didn’t have excited feelings of anticipation for motherhood or happiness. Instead, I felt scared, sad and lonely. Mr. Ex was there of course but, she wasn’t. My mother. At that moment, I missed her like never before.

A few weeks before going into labor, I laid across my grandma Phy’s bed confessing my feelings.

“Everyone else has their mother to hold their hand and show them what to do. It’s only going to be me and Mr. Ex. He grew up without a father and I didn’t have a mother. How crazy it that? We’re going to be totally lost”.

“You’ll do just fine. The nurses will make sure you know how to feed, change and bathe the baby before you go home”, she responded.

“Your motherly instincts will kick in”.

I wasn’t too sure of all of that. I just let out a long deep sigh and quiet tears. “I need her. I want her to hold my hand and be there with me grandmommy”, I said. No response but, I knew she understood.

As I lay in my hospital bed deep in thought, and Mr. Ex catching a quick nap, she came strolling in. Grandma Phy! I was elated to see her. She was our only visitor since I had checked in the day before. She instantly took over as the true nurse she was (of course retired at this point). She spoke with the doctor and nurses to find out what was going on. I was admitted and induced the day before due to low amniotic fluids around the baby.  Since this was now 24 hours in, they were ready to break my water and get the show on the road.

Grandma Phy moved around the room like grace. Checking my contractions, holding my hand, placing cool rags on my head and lovingly pushing my hair back out of my face. Just giving me that motherly touch I so craved. After about another 3 hours, the doctor informed us that the baby was giving off stress signals so they wanted to go ahead and give me a C-Section. “ No, no, nope. You not even going to go that route. Give it a little more time. She’s young and needs to have a natural birth”, grandma demanded. “Well we can wait 30 more minutes and then we will have to take the baby”, the doctor responded.

30 minutes later, the doctor was back and what do you know, I was at 10 and ready to push. With Mr. Ex on one side and grandma Phy on the other, three pushes and he was here. My purple baby but, no cry. He was alert and looking around but, no cry. Grandma Phy was full of concern and told the doctor to make him cry. Two tries before we heard his beautiful short yell, no cry. After cutting the umbilical cord, they took him to the cleaning station.

Suddenly, there was a panic among the staff. We were informed that they needed to take the baby to Nicu to clear his lungs. Grandma Phy was disgusted. “They took too long to make him cry. There better not be anything wrong with that baby or they will have a lawsuit up their ass!” (I told ya’ll before, she don’t play). After that, she and Mr. Ex rushed right down to Nicu to see what was going on. I was left in a ball of nerves crying for my mommy.  They returned a short while later to let me know that he was okay so, Grandma Phy headed out. An hour later, the nurse brought me the most perfect little being I had ever seen. As a bonus, he looked just like me!

I instantly fell in love. All fear left and I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of protection and joy. The next few days in the hospital were bliss. I spent the time getting to know my little man and never letting him leave my side. On the day, we were supposed to check out, I noticed my baby had labored breathing. We had changed his milk a few times due to lactose issues but, this was different. I asked the nurse to check him out. After listening to his lungs, she called in a doctor who took him to Nicu to further examine him. He determined from the exam that my baby had amniotic pneumonia and he would have to stay in Nicu for a week on antibiotics to clear it up but, I could go home.

Go home?! Nope, not this lifetime. I was not even going to consider leaving my baby when he needed me, and that is exactly what I told them too. After all, they weren’t even aware of the issue until I brought it to their attention.

So, for a week, Mr. Ex and I stayed at the hospital. We left once that week to go home to shower, eat and then right back to the hospital. We spent most of the week dinning at the vending machines, drinking coffee to stay awake. Eventually, the hospital gave us a room right by the Nicu but, at this point, sleep was only for the weak. I had to be strong for my baby but, by the end of the week, we were like walking zombies. Mr. Ex finally gave in and got some much-needed sleep.

My brain wouldn’t let me sleep. I was right there in Nicu every moment that they would let me. I fed him, changed him and held his little hand while telling him how great his future was going to be. Just doing what I felt a mother should do. Each night I prayed and cried for my mother. I asked the Lord to pass messages to her. I just wanted so badly to know that she was watching over me and sending pointers from heaven.

Finally, it was time to take him home! We were so excited but, when we got home the house was a wreak. I was fine with that because I was in great spirits. I cleaned the house top to bottom, cleaned myself, cuddled my little man to sleep and finally laid down for some much need sleep. Then Bam! 2:30 in the morning, he woke up crying and so did I. He wanted to be fed and I wanted my mommy.

He Said, She Said

– A Journey of Understanding

People do not die from suicide; they die from sadness-unknown

My grandmother Phy (my father’s mother) is the light of my life. Whenever I want the truth, straight up with no chaser, I can always depend on her to give it to me. So, when I was ready for the raw truth about my mother, I went straight to her.

See, as I said before, I got bits and piece throughout my life. One person told me she was suicidal her entire life (this person did not even know her well). Another person told me my mother did it for attention and another said she simply gave up. None of these explanations sufficed so, I was still left seeking the truth. To this day, I feel like the closest I ever got of the unbiased truth was from grandma Phy but, before I tell you what she said, let me tell you what he said….

His story:

According to my Dad,  it started with a disagreement about their living arrangements. At the time, they were living with my grandmother Mama Lou (my mother’s mother). The living arrangement was very uncomfortable as he did not get along too well with my grandmother or my uncles. They also did not have a lot of privacy. My Dad went and found them a two bedroom apartment but, my Mom refused to move in. At that point, they split up and to his understanding, they were separated. He started a relationship with a lady named Glenn. While in his new relationship, he reconciled with my Mom. He broke things off with Glenn but, she did not just go away. She started making idle threats about exposing their relationship. Then, Glenn found out she was pregnant with my father’s child. This really amped-up things as she then started playing on their phone. This caused my Mom to accuse my Dad of a continued relationship with Glenn so, he got rid of the house phone.

On the night that my mother committed suicide, it came as a total surprise to him. There were no signs. In fact, we all had just come home from the movies. My mother put me and my sister to bed and she decided to stay up to watch the late show. This was not uncommon as she loved the late show so, he went ahead and went to bed. He awoke to a loud bang. He ran into the smoke-filled living room to discover my mother on the couch with his service pistol still in her hand. She was bleeding from her abdomen area but, she was still alive. In a panic, he ran from the apartment and started banging on the neighbor’s doors begging for help. Eventually, he went back to the apartment and held my mother while attempting to encourage her to stay alive between sobs.

When the police came he was arrested. At the police station, he was questioned and had his nails and hands swabbed for gun residue. While he was waiting on the results, my aunt came to the jail. She came to inform him that my mother had passed away. In a rage, he destroyed the cell that he was in. Once the rage was gone and sadness was all that was left, he was released, and no charges were filed.

She said:

Mama Lou remembered things quite differently. According to her, my parents lived with her because my mother was a young mother with two children and a husband that liked to run the streets. My mother needed the help. When my Dad moved out, they were still a couple and were never separated. Eventually, my mother moved into the apartment with my Dad and soon after discovered he was living a double life. She was informed by a man named Jim, that he was living with a woman named Glenn and they even had the nerves to have my mother’s curtains up to their window. My Dad denied that he was cheating let alone living with someone else. My mother had Mama Lou drive her past the apartments. Low and behold, her curtains were at the window.

My mother was upset but, stayed with my Dad. Then the calls started. My mother became very depressed when hearing Glenn was pregnant as she was trying to have a son. According to Mama Lou, my mother would come over every day and just cry for days on end. Mama Lou said she knew my Dad did not physically kill my mother but, he was guilty of killing her spirit.

She said:

The first thing grandma Phy said is that she can only tell me what she knew and observed. My parents met when High School was coming to an end for my Dad. He was two years older than my Mom. At 17, my mother became pregnant with my sister. My Dad had already enlisted in the Marines so, at the demands of Mama Lou, the two were married.

Despite the “shotgun wedding”, they seemed to be in love. They spent the start of their marriage living with Mama Lou because my Dad was in and out of the country with the Marines. When he was stationed in State they lived together. As a matter of fact, they lived together in California where I was born. When I reached the age of 1, my parents moved back home with Mama Lou. Tension rose between the couple when my Dad wanted to move out and my mother wanted to stay so she could get help her girls.

My Mom stayed with her mother and my dad left but, they were never separated. Once my Dad fixed up the place we moved in. During this time my Dad had an affair with Glenn. Glenn became pregnant and constantly called my Mom at home and work to taunt her with the fact that she was having my Dad’s child.

Grandma Phy went on to tell me that she and my Mom were close. My Mom would come to visit and sit and talk with her all the time about what was going on. On the day that she committed suicide, my mother had come to visit her earlier in the day. She was very upset about my father’s indiscretions and stated that she wanted to kill him, herself and since she didn’t want to leave her kids, kill us too.

Well, grandma Phy said she didn’t take my Mom’s threat seriously. She was talking out of her ass and black people just don’t do crazy shit like that. So, she told her if she wanted to kill someone then kill herself. That night that is just what she did. Grandma Phy said she found out from a call from one of her kids while she was at work. In those days grandma Phy was a nurse and just happened to work at the hospital that my Mom was brought to.  Before she could turn around and get to my Mom, Mama Lou ran up and attacked her. Mama Lou was saying that my Dad killed my Mom. Grandma Phy said she was confused and went to find my mom. She said she rushed to where my mother was and watched her die on the operating table.

After unloading her story, she dug in her closet and pulled out several photo albums, a scrapbook, obituary, and my mother’s suicide letter.

Her Story:

The scrapbook was put together by my mother. It had cards she received from my father when he was overseas and pictures of the two of them.

Excerpts from the scrapbook:

“We share our life, our dreams, and our love”

“He cares, I care”

“I love him, He loves me”

“He is everything I ever wanted. He made my life worth living and that’s why I love him”

“Now I and Malcolm are happily married and have a baby on the way and he is in the Marines severing his country”

“We both love each other very much and Dear me and he have a lot more than lovers have and that’s why we are very proud. I love him very much and I’m willing to spend the rest of my life with him”

To protect everyone involved, I have decided not to include her suicide letter. However, I can tell you she did mention Jim, Glenn, and my Dad. She also said that she loved me and my sister very much and that she hoped one day we would understand and forgive her.

Cindy died on March 29, 1984, at the age of 22.

I say:

She died of a broken heart….

No Comparison

– A Journey of Understanding

We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see -Zen Proverb

She was murdered. That was the lie I told everyone when they asked how my mother died. I was too ashamed to admit that she committed suicide. “Black people don’t kill themselves”, “Only crazy people commit suicide”, “If you kill yourself then you’re going straight to hell!” These were the stigmas I grew up around. I was already self-conscious of the fact that I was poor, dark-skinned and lived in an overcrowded house with my grandmother. I didn’t want to give my peers anything else to judge me by. It was only my very closest friends that knew my shameful secret. And it remained that way the majority of my life.

Only hearing bits and pieces of my mother’s life and death, I didn’t really have much to go on. On top of all that, I didn’t even look like her. I had no proof that she even loved me.  All of the photo albums I had seen thus far were filled with pictures of her, my Dad and my older sister (who looks like her twin).  I only had maybe 3 baby pictures of me and no other pictures until I was 5, long after her death. So, I remained bitter towards her and didn’t have any desire to ever go back to the cemetery to see her. She had abandoned me in life so, I had abandoned her in death. It wasn’t until I became engaged did I really start to become interested in her story.

I was 19 when I became pregnant with my first child and got engaged to my longtime crush, Mr. Ex. Mr. Ex’s family was thrilled that we decided to get married. Being a very religious family, they saw it as the only proper thing to do. His mother handled all the arrangements including altering my wedding dress to fit my pregnant belly. Mr. Ex’s sister helped make the brides maids dresses and offered her church for the ceremony. His other sister volunteered to cook the food for the reception.

My family, on the other hand, was not very happy. In fact, my dad tried to talk me out of getting married. “Just because you have a baby together does not mean you have to be married Manosha”, that was his exact words. He even tried to point out attractive women to Mr. Ex saying, “See what you will be missing out on if you get married”. On top of all that he refused to help in any kind of way with my wedding. At one point, I considered having my uncle walk me down the aisle instead of him.

My dad wasn’t the only unsupportive person.  Mama Lou refused to attend the wedding saying “This is Cindy and Malcolm all over again”, (my mother and father). My grandma Phy asked me to take some time and really think about this. “Don’t let his family pressure you into marriage. No one wants to see what happened to your mother happen to you but, if this is really what you want, I will support you”.

I could not understand for the life of me why my family kept comparing my engagement to my parents. The more they kept bringing it up the more curious I got. Regardless, I was determined to get married. Not because I was pregnant but, because I had found my soulmate, and nothing was going to change that.  So, I did what I wanted and got married. Threats in all, everyone showed up even my Mama Lou.

After the wedding, I was sure that all the comparisons would stop. Nope didn’t happen. Son after, Mr. Ex and I attended a dinner at my Mama Lou’s home. “You not going to kill Manosha like Malcolm did Cindy, are you?”  Total shock and embarrassment was my reaction to my grandmother’s question to Mr. Ex. “My dad did not kill my mom she did that to herself!” I shouted. “No not physically he didn’t but figuratively he did Manosha. Trust Mama when I tell you, he crushed her spirit. She loved that man so much till all she could do was worry about where Malcolm was and what he was doing. He didn’t love her as she loved him and that is why she is dead.”

This was the first time I had ever heard Mama Lou speak that much on my mother’s death. That was all she said though. I tried to push her to tell me more but, she told me that was not her job. That my father knew what she was talking about and needed to tell me the truth. That is when my mission started. My mission to find out why my mother killed herself. What made her want to take her own life?

I was on the verge of motherhood myself. I couldn’t imagine anything in the world that would make me abandon the child growing inside of me. I loved my baby so much and I hadn’t even had it yet nor did I know what it was. Was she really just crazy or was there a real story behind the madness? There was only one way to find out and that was to ask the only person who ever bothered to be completely honest with me my entire life. So, I showed up at her door ready to find out the truth and nothing less and to my surprise, she was ready to give it to me.

Painful Truth

– A Journey  of Understanding

Suicide doesn’t take away the pain, it gives it to someone else-unknown

“Let’s go!” I was pumped and excited when my grandma Phy asked me if I wanted to see my mother’s resting place. At 15 years old, I had never been to her grave site, so this was sort of an adventure for me. Sounds strange right? Okay well, let me backtrack some.

My mother committed suicide a few weeks after my sister turned 4. I was 2 at the time. There was so much animosity between the two families that a fight broke out at the wake (we didn’t go to that either). The high level of anger made my father and grandmother Phy decide that it was inappropriate for us to go to the funeral.

For me, it was like she was never here. I didn’t have any memories of any of it. Hell, I didn’t even remember her. To this day I can’t tell you what she sounds like, smelled like or how she was as a mother.

Though-out my life I would hear different tales of a feisty, tough, hardworking woman. I had seen a lot of pictures of her too but, never had I been to her grave site. So, since I never actually seen her gravesite, I secretly thought everyone was lying to me and my mother was not actually dead. Suicide seemed so far-fetched. I had no real proof so, when my grandma Phy asked me I thought, no big deal.

Me, two cousins and my friend from the neighborhood, loaded up in my grandmother’s truck and off to the cemetery we went. Everyone was in good spirits, laughing and joking along the way. It felt like we were just going on another everyday outing.

When we arrived at my mother’s grave site my grandma Phy began to look nervous and spoke very softly (not normal for my outspoken grandmother). “This is where she is”, she said. My cousin and I jumped out the truck and my other cousin stayed in along with my friend. We stood looking at the grass. She didn’t have a headstone and neither did the person to her right or left.

My grandma Phy walked up and pointed to the space with an empty space in the middle, “There”. I gave an awkward chuckle. “This is weird,” I told my cousin. For a moment we all just stood there staring at the ground. “Get back in the car, give her a moment alone with her mother”, grandma Phy told my cousin.

I didn’t know how to feel or what to do as this was my first time at any cemetery. Not knowing what else to do I just started talking, “Hi Cindy. This is Manosha your youngest daughter”. Suddenly it felt like the life was sucked out of me. I fell to my knees and it felt like an emotional load was just dumped on my back.

In saying those words, I suddenly realized it was true. She was really gone and never coming back. Standing at the gravesite talking to my dead mother made it all too real for me. A 15-year-old me lay in the fetal position on my mother’s grave. I sobbed from the pits of my heart and soul.

Gone were the days of imaging that she ran off but, would one day return. The dreams that she would eventually show up to get me was over.  Tearful prayers to find my mother was now void and I was left feeling foolish. She is forever gone and never to return. No more excuses.

For a moment I forgot where I was or who I was with. Grandma Phy’s gentle touch and tears on my arm brought me back to reality. “I’m ready to go”, I said between sobs as I gathered myself from the ground. The car ride home was long and silent.

When we got home I immediately isolated myself and my friend went home. I was lost in thought the remainder of the day. They really weren’t lying all these years. My mother actually killed herself. I couldn’t shake the reality that I now had to face.

My head was full of questions. Did she ever love me? Was I a bad child? Why didn’t she want me? How could she leave me! With each question, I became more and more enraged. Why am I stuck here crying over someone that didn’t love me enough to stick around? Well no more! She gets no more of my tears and I refuse to miss her! I affirmed as I drifted off to sleep.

D Day -The Emotional Rollercoaster

–  A journey of Letting Go

Hopeful

I was so ready to finalize my divorce. The court doors opened and in hobbled Mr. Ex on crutches. It was like seeing the ghost of husband’s past. I know what you’re thinking, and no I did not feel sorry for him. Not one little bit. I know this man. There are only 2 reasons why Mr. Ex was on crutches,

He was faking it to get sympathy from the courts
He did something negligent or reckless to cause his injury
Either way, I just glad that he actually showed up this time.

We had to sit and wait only 10 minutes for the judge to take the bench. Talk about the longest 10 minutes in history or at least that’s what it felt like. My attorney sat to my left and my sister sat to my right. Mr. Ex sat to the left of my attorney. “Just look ahead”, I kept repeating that to myself. I felt like if I made eye contact with him, he would get in my head and I wouldn’t be able to think straight. I needed to stay firm, focused, and strong in my decision to do what I knew was right.

All rise! As we took our seats, I glanced over at Mr. Ex and he was making every ugly face known to man while slowly easing into his seat. Nope, still didn’t feel sorry for him. Neither did my attorney because he dove right in.

Disgusted

The first thing my attorney asked, was why no child supports in 7 months. Now, this is when the B.S started to flow from Mr. Ex’s mouth. According to Mr. Ex, he was currently not working due to a car accident. Being the excellent attorney he is, as he asked more detailed questions, the real story came out, aka reason 2.

Mr. Ex said 4 days ago (yes child he said days) he was sitting in a car at 3 A.M (yes, 3 in the morning) at the gas station (in a known “troubled” neighborhood) when a drunk driver struck the car on his side. He said he went to the hospital and they think he may have fractured his hip. No justifiable reason for hanging out at the gas station at 3 in the morning and no doctor statement. Besides all that, the “accident” happened 4 DAYS ago so, that didn’t explain the other 206 days with no support.

Annoyed

I call B.S but, somehow the judge went for it. She did order arrearage for the missed payments but, put provisions in the order for him to modify the order prior to the 36-month rule in case he could no longer work due to his “injury”. Then because he did not do the parenting class that all divorcing couples with kids have to do, she ordered him to a free online version. I had to sit 4 long hours and pay $75 for this class. I was the one raising 2 teenage boys by myself on minimum wage for most of those 7 months. All the while, what was he doing? Hanging out at the gas station at 3 in the morning.

Relieved

That was the hard part of the divorce. Mr. Ex agreed to part ways with what we already had in our possession. He also agreed to pay whatever debt that was in our name as we had no joint accounts or debts. Do not be shocked or give him too much credit though, all the bills we ever had was in my name. I just considered this to be a small price for freedom.

Perplexed

As for Thing 1 and Thing 2, due to Mr. Ex’s state of mind and lifestyle, the court granted me full physical and legal custody. Mr. Ex was not even granted parenting time. The judge ruled that he had to complete some provisions and then file a petition to even be considered for any parenting time. I didn’t see that one coming. I wanted to protect my kids from the trickle-down effects of the harmful situations that Mr. Ex loves to revel in but, I never intended to keep my kids from their father. I could only hope that he would quickly and successfully complete the court’s request, so he could get back to being a father.

Liberated

You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces, differently-unknown

Finally, the judge granted me my maiden name back. Court adjourned! That was the official end to us and the beginning of me. To everyone around me I was in celebration mode but, once I was alone I was beginning to reflect.

Deep in thought, I was suddenly back to that fateful night of October 20, 2001. Our Wedding night.  A 19-year-old me lay in my newly gifted negligee 2 hours into waiting for the return of my husband. I had made an attempted to make our humble one bedroom apartment as romantic as possible for us to consummate our marriage. Candles were strategically placed all around the room giving it this beautiful hazy glow. Our song, You’re All I need, was on repeat.

“Where is he!” I shouted, feeling frustrated and lonely. Checking the time yet again, 12:30 A.M. At that moment in time, I had all kinds of wonderful, lively fantasies about our future together. Calling around to all his family and friends, jails and pleading to God that he was okay was never in my fantasies. Yelling, cussing, lies and suspicions of cheating was not the future I pictured for us. Depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, and empties was not the forever I seen when I gazed in his eyes just hours before at the altar. That night I drifted off to sleep listing to Mary and that night we did not consummate our marriage.

Like a strong gust of wind, my mind whirled around all the stressful situations I allowed my marriage to put me in. My 15 years of marriage was like being on a crazy roller coaster ride in the middle of a tornado. Finally, the storm died down and I got off the roller coaster. I put my past to rest. I got up and walked to the mirror in the hallway. I took a long hard look at myself. From my head to my toes. With a wink and a smile, I said out loud, “Allow me to reintroduce myself”.

The Final Say

– A journey of Letting Go

When life gives you lemons, plant the seeds-Manosha Gray

Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated and act on your dreams when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who doubt your every move.  To be honest it is just downright mentally draining. When you’re not sharing your every move with people they can only go off of what they see. From the outside looking in, I looked like a chicken running around with my head cut off.

My temporary job had ended and while I was looking for a permanent position, I was also still hard at work reinventing my business. A business to which I had no clientele. I imagine to others I looked like a lost child because I began to get bombarded with unsolicited suggestions on what my next move should be. “You should try the temp agency I worked for they always got jobs”, “Go see if you can get your job back with the government”, and the most popular piece of unwanted advice, “You need to stop trying to play with that business stuff and get a real job with benefits”. Ha!

Nothing about what I was doing was playful or a game. While everyone else in the house lay asleep I was up utilizing my phone light to do research. I stayed up late night looking into different business development skills, marketing, business structures and businesses similar to my own. I used this time to load my brain with tons of business knowledge.

During the day I was glued to the computer putting in applications and submitting resumes. It actually didn’t take me long to find my ideal job. I was notified about the opening through an email. It was an email straight from the big man above. Great pay, part-time schedule, and union benefits. I was on it!

I had to take a skills test, an interview and then a drug test. The last and final step was to prove that I worked at my past employer’s. This step was long and difficult because one was my last part-time job that went out of business. My business also came up, so I had to prove that it existed. The entire thing was a long and grueling process. While I was waiting on my start date, people continued to give me their unrequited advice. Now that I potentially had a great job, the advice was all about letting go of my business aspirations.

Little known to them, the day I left Mr. Ex I had decided to live life according to my terms and not others. Leaving Mr. Ex and having to venture out into adulthood for the first time alone forced me to look inward. I had to get to know myself, my adult self. I was a much different person than I was 15 years ago when I had said “I do” at the age of 19. I had to learn my strengths, weakness, passions, and pains.

I looked in the mirror and saw this beautiful, powerful soul of a woman that was yearning to get out. I realized that if I let others decide my future then I would never be happy. I had reached a point in my life where I could only be true to myself. And the truth was if I listen to all the nay say’ers, the beautiful, powerful soul inside of me would die. They would win, and I would lose.  So, the job called and gave me a start date. In return, I accepted and gave my business a re-launch opening date and I had the final say.

Pre-Cautiously Pleased

– A journey of Letting Go

If you always do what interest you, at least one person is pleased-Katherine Hepburn

I felt super-hot and had wet hands, racing heartbeat along with involuntary holding of my breath.  Why was I so scared and nervous? This was just the preliminary hearing. I had so much further to go. On top of all of that, I was not alone. Not only did I have my attorney with me, but I also had one of my cousins there for moral support. Yet for some reason, I still felt so vulnerable while watching the clock run down the time until the hearing began.

All rise! I was on my feet, staring at the door when the judge walked in. No sign of Mr. Ex or his attorney. Once the judge was settled in she announced that Mr. Ex’s attorney had withdrawn but, not before making Mr. Ex aware of the day’s proceeding. So, she ruled that we would move forward with or without him.

My attorney was on it. He introduced our evidence of witness statements and video accounts to keep the restraining order in place for me. As far as the actual divorce, I didn’t want much. I simply requested that whatever we had in our possession now, we keep and that we assume the responsibility for whatever bill that was in our name. This was actually a big break for Mr. Ex. Every bill we had was in my name. Utilities, credit cards, and the lease was all going to fall on me.

I’m sure I could’ve had the court order him to pay half of those bills but, getting him to actually pay it would’ve been like squeezing blood from a turnip. I just wanted to be free. I was granted temporary full custody of the boys and child support. My final hearing was scheduled for 30 days from then. Due to the back and forth with Mr. Ex and his previous attorney, the judge assured that I would be granted my divorced at the final hearing. Then just like that, court was dismissed and I could once again breath.

I walked out of the courtroom feeling pre-cautiously pleased. I got everything I wanted for now but, I was not in a celebratory mood. I was initially nervous to see him but, very shocked and disappointed that he didn’t show up. Not for me but, for our boys. Due to his absence and explosive attitude, the judge kept the restraining order in place for the boys as well. Now the burden was once again on my shoulders to relay the information to them. I just knew the boys would be so disappointed and that was not what I wanted.  Once again, Mr. Ex left me holding the emotional bag…. and now I had to deliver it.

Construction Zone

-A journey of Letting Go

Sticks and stones can break your bones or you can use them to build a foundation-Manosha Gray

I was in full hustle mode. Revamping my business and getting all my legal “ducks” in a row felt great. It gave me life. Inspiration, motivation, and excitement were pumping through my veins giving me a natural high. The alarm clock was no longer my enemy but, instead a green light to go get it every day. On top of all of that, the boys were doing great and my jazzman, also an entrepreneur, was super supportive and encouraging. Mr. Ex and my pending divorce were the farthest things from my mind. All was right in my world for a moment.

And it was just that, a moment. We all know there are no smooth roads on the journey of life. There are all kinds of sticks and stones on the road ready to trip you up. There’s really no need to worry about the sticks and stones if you know how to use them. Right in the middle of my bliss, sticks appear but, I was determined not to get buried.  This was not my first or last stick so I knew how to use it and that was about to be put to the test.

One day I walked into work feeling fine as wine. Then Bam! My supervisor pulled me to the side and said, “Babe, we are going out of business in 2 weeks”. Yes, child, she said 2 weeks! That was the last thing I needed or wanted to hear.

All kinds of thoughts started to flood my mind. How was I going to move? How was I going to continue to re-establish my business? Besides all of that, how was I going to be able to pay my attorney for this divorce? Overwhelmed is an understatement of how I felt in that moment. To tell the truth, I really wanted to scream, yell and make a huge scene. But, I didn’t have time to crumble and I needed those last few checks.

It was time to do some construction. During my lunch break, I hit the job broads like a mad woman.  I submitted my resume to every available job I could find. To my surprise, it only took a few days to get a response. A job paying $15 an hour offered me a position starting that following week. I was relieved and elated all at once. It was a seasonal position but, I had worked for them before so, I knew I had at least three months of work. This bought me time to find a permanent position somewhere else.

Seasonal or not it was great to find work especially since my preliminary divorce hearing was creeping on the come up. This was a huge stone just staring me in the face. It was just about time to start breaking it down and making it part of my foundation. And like all sticks and stones, it did not care if I was ready. The construction zone was in full effect and I was the foreman.

Back To Business

– A journey of Letting Go

Life is a series of beginnings not endings-Bernie Siegel

Annoyed. That’s the feeling I would get every time that ratchet alarm clock would go off. I was so annoyed because that blaring sound would always snatch me from my dreams of running a successful paralegal firm. Running from law firm to Courthouse helping to relieve families from the stress and heartache of family law. I dreamt of opening a nonprofit to assist single parents and traveling the world motivating people to follow their dreams. This was the glorious life I lived every night before the alarm clock would bully me out of my dreams and I was sick of it.

It was time to face reality and re-evaluate my situation. Then and there I decided right now was the time. I couldn’t allow my divorce to break me down and keep me there. After all, I am more than a wife. Long before I was labeled anything else, I was named Manosha. This is who I have always been. I was standing in the midst of my sink or swim moment in life and at that very moment, I chose to swim.

The great plot to make me come back began. I turned the bedroom that I shared with my boys into my workshop. The bus I rode to work became my thinking place and my minimum wage job turned into my networking spot. I was determined to rebirth my paralegal firm. A new business deserved a new feel and name. Your Family’s Paralegal. That’s what I do and what the business embodied so, that’s what I named the firm. I hit the ground running. The excitement of entrepreneurship began to pump through my veins again.

Although I had successfully created a business before, starting overcame with some great challenges. My last paralegal firm was still fairly new when I dismantled it but, it had started to generate a buzz in the legal community. Closing the door just when I was reaching my stride caused a grey cloud to form over my name. So, the first thing I had to do was branding damage control. I had to rebuild trust in my ability to be who I called myself to be and that was the best family law paralegal in the field.

Branding damage control had to be first on the list. It was no good to push a business that was owned by someone that appeared to be flaky.  Even though I wanted to forget about it, I still had my divorce to deal with at the same time. The best thing for me to do was to sit down and write out my master plan. My master plan consisted of step-by-step goals and due dates. My goals were to re-brand myself, revamp all things dealing with my paralegal firm, finish off my divorce and work on my children and my living situation. Having a written goal orientated master plan allowed me to visually see my progress, stay on track and stay motivated.

My kids must’ve seen a light come on inside of me because they were excited to assist in any way they could. Everywhere I went people would say, “Girl you are glowing”.  I was glowing alright. Glowing from finally waking up from my dreams and creating a new reality.  With my master plan in hand, I was back to business again.