Not Like the Movies
It took a long time to write this post. High school and college prepare you for a lot of important things, but they leave out a lot of the hard stuff you'll face as an adult. Learning how to pick a health insurance plan, saving for retirement, cautioning against consumer credit card debt, buying a home and most of all recovering from heartbreak.
2015 was certainly a year of hardships for me, professionally and personally. I have had a lot of challenges in my life over the years, deaths of close friends, break ups, moving away from home, but none of those things quite compare to the feeling of loneliness that being in a city without family can bring you.
That may be one of the biggest challenges facing my generation - a fear of failure. We want to have perfect Instagram lives and want everyone to know we are eating great food, partying non-stop and raking in cash. In fact, you could probably look at my Instagram over the past year and think that 2015 was a stellar year in the life of LEM.
Yet what you don't see on Instagram are the sleepless nights, endless hours at the office and dissolution of a three year (literally - to the date) marriage. I didn't grow up thinking I would be a divorcee by 28, yet here I am. I didn't grow up thinking I would own a 2,000+ sq ft house on my own, yet here I am. I didn't grow up thinking I'd come home to an empty, quiet house, yet here I am. I spent most of the fall of 2015 mourning the loss of my marriage, unsure how I'd recover and what people would think of me. I wore my rings as long as I could. I cried in secret at my desk at work then perked back up for meetings. I went to my Latina Leadership Institute class every month and drew strength from my classmates. I didn't open up to many people for fear of being viewed as a failure or for fear that the blame of the divorce would be placed on me. Divorce feels like one of those things you're just not supposed to talk about. Yet, when I finally did open up to my closest confidants, I was relieved. As more people found out, some comments were the ones I expected, but most were overwhelmingly supportive.
The Latina Leadership Institute had set me up for 2016. I felt like I was finally ready to either run for office or apply for a high profile board/commission. Yet, I spent the latter months of the class feeling like a failure, like my entire life was about to reset or like I couldn't recover from what was happening to me. One of our class sessions featured two Councilwomen and a State Representative. They talked about family, what it was like to have family support. The State Representative talked about what it was like to be a young divorcee. I was taken aback. We're Hispanic! We're not supposed to talk about divorce...hell, we're not even supposed to get divorced!
Yet here she was, in my dream job, talking about how she picked up the pieces and moved on. I felt my eyes start to well up.
The class asked us to fill out a roadmap for the next few weeks, months and even year then present them during our graduation. I didn't know what to write down anymore. I was just weeks out from finalizing a divorce. My name was about to change. I was living alone with a dog and two cats. I was under an extreme amount of stress and trying to hide it from everyone. I thought about lying on the timeline and going forward with what the original plan was. Instead I stood in front of the class, lifted my head up and announced to all of them, including our steering committee, that I didn't know what to write down because I was getting divorced and I felt like my world had completely fallen apart. Instead of committing to raising money or securing my campaign manager I was going to finalize the paperwork and change my name. I felt the tears overcome me. All these months of anxiety suddenly felt like they were gone and finally I could breathe again. I didn't expect the reaction I received from my classmates. I didn't really even know that I was going to stand there and tell my story until the words started coming out of my mouth. I finally understand all these dramatic monologues you see in movies. They happen in real time and they happen because you choose to let the truth set you free.
That was the first step in the healing process. Slowly but surely, I started opening up more about what I was going through. It felt awkward at first. I didn't want to tell my parents. I didn't want to tell my friends. I didn't want my clients to find out. But they all would and it was better that they hear it from me. Things don't always go as you hope and my Mom and Dad found out in less than ideal circumstances. Still, their unconditional support has been what has kept me going.
As if that weren't enough of a life change, I was offered a pretty big career move to join the Government and Public Affairs team at the City of San Antonio. The decision to move out of agency life and into this brand new communications strategist role did not come lightly. I consulted my mom, my dad, my best friends and prayed about it. It was a fresh start and it was an opportunity I simply couldn't walk away from. Still, high school and college will never prepare you for the week that you finalize your divorce and tender your resignation from a job I was in almost as long as I was married. A job that let me rise from a new Account Executive to an Account Supervisor. I will forever be grateful to KGBTexas for letting me grow and learn on the job.
2015 was filled with sleepless nights and too many tears. There were some mornings where I could barely muster the strength to get out of bed. I went days without eating. I had the hardest, heaviest conversations of my life. I felt like I didn't want to face another day ever again. I felt like I would never see the light again and that no one would ever see me for me anymore, but simply the 28 year old divorcee.
This post in itself is the coming clean that I needed to reset my online life, which I have shared with the world since blogs were invented.
After spending the fall of 2015 at the peak of emotional agony, I have picked up the pieces and finally, for the first time in months, felt normal again after a wonderful weekend. I'm adjusting to life as a dog mom on my own. My new job feels like the fresh start that I needed. I started seeing someone and I absolutely adore him. He has been unconditionally supportive of me through what can easily be described as the most tumultuous time of my life.
I learned a lot about myself these past few years. I felt shackled by the turmoil I was going through. Now, I can finally breathe and think of the future. I'm 28. I have amazing friends and family who have supported me throughout all of this. I feel lucky to be serving on some amazing initiatives that will dramatically change the way we experience San Antonio.
You're not supposed to talk about stuff like this, but if more people did, then maybe more people would have the courage to ask for help when they need it.