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.

Guilty Pleasure

–  A journey of Letting Go

I don’t feel guilty in having pleasure-Paula Radcliffe

 So, I pretty much knew right away that the young guy was not for me. He immediately began to blow my phone up. While I liked the attention, I definitely didn’t need that much. The older man, on the other hand, was much different. His approach was smooth like jazz and a warm cup of coffee.

We shared pleasant, mature phone conversations. From time to time he would come into the store I worked at and pretend to be interested in making a purchase. He would come to the glass cases I worked at and ask to look at one of the cased items. Then while fumbling around with the item, he would ask me about my day and give me soft, sweet smiles. I had never been involved with a man so much older than me but, he was so endearing it made me want to give it a try.

At the same time, my children were doing loads better by having someone outside of the family to talk to. I stayed on top of their sessions and was happy to hear that their grades were still in great condition. I even began to see their bright smiles and lively personalities return. This meant the world to me. To make sure this progress lasted, I was extra careful to not let Thing 1 and Thing 2 find out about my jazzman.

Meanwhile, I was still dealing with the woes of my pending divorce. Being a great paralegal afforded me the opportunity to work with some great attorneys. I was able to hire a past colleague that was willing to work with me on a payment schedule. I wanted things done as quickly as possible so, I requested that my attorney contact Mr. Ex’s attorney to see what we could work out prior to our preliminary hearing.

My main goal was to get the children back into a regular visitation rotation with their dad. At first that appeared to be his goal as well. We agreed upon a conduit and neutral pick up/drop off location. The last step was for Mr. Ex’s attorney to draw up the necessary agreement forms along with answering the interrogatories for the hearing. We seemed to be making real progress. Then they suddenly stopped responding. Our court hearing was still weeks away but, the sudden halt in communication was disheartening, to say the least.

Without a doubt this affected my mood. My jazz man picked up on it right away. Without exposing too much, I confided in him about the stress of the divorce communications. His words of comfort and reassurance sang my blues away. Pretty soon I was smiling and feeling all giddy again.

I was enjoying my conversations so much with my jazz man that feelings of guilt started to creep into my mind. Was I allowed to feel this pleasure in the midst of a divorce?  Should I allow these warm feelings of forget me nots to continue? This certainly wasn’t the friendship that I was looking for. Nevertheless, I decided to indulge in my guilty pleasure. After all, mama’s got to have a life too right?

Friendly Options

– A journey of Letting Go

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure- Unknown

Some say that when you’re in a relationship, you become attractive to the world around you. Well, either I never noticed when I was married or divorce had the opposite effect on me. I suddenly became a hot commodity. I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “where yo man at” or some other lame line. It was nice to be considered attractive in all but, even though I was single, I was not ready to mingle.

Hell, the way I was feeling I figured I would be single for the rest of my life. A commitment was not in my vocabulary. While commitment was out, a little something on the side was still an option. After all, a girl still has her needs (and no I don’t just mean sex). I was interested in a friend with benefits. I wasn’t quite sure if these kinds of relationships even existed anymore but, I was willing to try.

One problem though was after 15 years of faithful marriage, I didn’t know the first thing about getting back out in the dating pool. Especially since I technically didn’t want to date. The lame pick up lines didn’t add any inspiration either, So, I prayed.

Yeah, that’s right. I put my “order” in for a friend. I was told that you have to be specific when asking God for something so; I go as specific as I could get. I prayed for a mature, established, God-fearing manly man that respects women and entrepreneurs and don’t mind being just friends. Sounds good right? I thought so too but, God got quite the sense of humor.

After I put my “order” in, it seemed like every senior citizen known to man started hitting on me. God must have seen my disappointment because, soon after that stopped, a troll of young guys started hitting on me. And when I say young, I mean barely legal young. So, I had another talk with God. I told God that I would keep an open mind but, no more senior citizens or barely legals, please. Then it happened. My luck changed.

I was headed into work on what happened to be New Year’s Eve. I decided to stop in a nearby store for snacks when I noticed an older male cleaning his truck in the store parking lot. Thinking, who does that, I dismissed the behavior as odd and proceeded into the store. I came out of the store and he was still waxing away at his truck. He nodded in my direction and said hello.

I politely responded with a hello and that prompted him to walk over and introduced himself. He said he was a single, God fearing man just interested in friendly conversation (yes, he actually said all of that). He came correct (no lame lines) so; I gave him that once over and decided to give him a chance.

He was attractive and appeared to be much older than me but, not a senior citizen. I believe in being upfront and honest so, I gave a quick mother of two in the middle of a divorce not looking for anything more than friendship spill. He was still interested so we exchanged numbers.

I proceeded on my way and not even two minutes later a young man approached me. He was attractive and obviously younger than I but, he didn’t look barely legal. He was full of compliments which had my brown skin flush red from blushing. He asked my name and before answering I asked his age. 24, 11-year difference, not bad for a friend with benefits. I figured it could be fun so, after my “spill”, we exchanged numbers.

My “order” was in and now I had friendly options.

The Innocent Ones

– A journey of Letting Go

Strength is removing your kids from a toxic environment not learning to live with it “for the sake of the kids”-unknown

It’s about that time for me to backtrack a little to talk about the most important people to me, the innocent ones. I’m speaking of my boys or as I like to call them, Thing 1 and Thing 2. If I am going to tell my story then I have to tell theirs too. While we were married Thing 1 and Thing 2 were subjected to a lot of unhealthy arguments. Mr. Ex and I had originally agreed many years ago that we would never argue in front of the boys. I think we did a good job of reserving our hurt feelings when the boys were really young. All they ever saw were smiles, laughs, and love. It wasn’t until my oldest was about 10 years old that they began to be exposed to our arguments.

Around this time, Mr. Ex had unexpectedly got his own place and moved out. Although the split was short-lived, it had a great effect on the boys, especially the oldest. He couldn’t even function properly in school due to our constant bickering and the split up. When I was informed by his teacher how my once straight A, upbeat, well-behaved child had changed it absolutely broke my heart. His grades dropped, he became aggressive and at one point couldn’t hold back his tears and had an emotional breakdown in class. If I never had any reason to try again with Mr. Ex this was it. Thing 1 and thing 2.

After Mr. Ex and I reunited we tried. That’s all I can say is that we tried but, the feelings got more intense and so did the arguments. It got to the point that we were arguing every day. We didn’t have to tell the boys that we were going to split they could feel it in the air. They seemed to just be waiting on the ball to drop.

The day I left Mr. Ex I left while the boys were in school. I had a relative to pick them up from school. Then I had the daunting task of explaining to them that we were not going back home and I was leaving their father. The tears flowed from them and it made the tears flow from me. It was so painful to see them hurt but, worse to expose them to our hurtful exchange every day. Then that night I awoke to hear my youngest sobbing. I crawled in bed with him and held him all night. The next morning I immediately called and scheduled counseling sessions for my boys with the school social worker. I also went and bought notebooks for them to keep a journal.

This turned out to be one of the best things I could’ve ever done for my boys. I made sure my boys spoke to them twice a week and every time a big change came about. When I had the restraining order put in place the social worker was very helpful in explaining the necessity of it. The sessions helped the boys get things off their chest that they did not want to tell me or their dad.  It also helped them express their feelings to us.  Now instead of being casualties of war, the innocent ones were empowered to be the true victors.