While I was pregnant three years ago, my former boss said to me, “You’re not going to become one of those moms who dotes on her kid all the time and puts her career on hold, are you?” Wow. What does one say in response to that? My boss never had kids, she always put her career first and it seemed she never understood the necessity of her employees to have a life outside of work.
Being an overachiever who had dedicated the majority of her 20’s and into her 30’s working for this woman, I assured her, “No! I am a strong working woman… I am a professional… I will get bored staying at home with my son… Career is everything to me… yadda yadda yadda…” What I didn’t know was that everything would soon be different and the memories of my “hard work” and “dedication” to my former career would be just that: memories.
My husband and I lived in Austin, TX from 2007-2015. Back then, I was a career-driven, stressed out, anxious fireball. I worked and toiled and worked some more. The unforgiving and cut-throat world of advertising would NOT take me down, or so I told myself. My husband, the saint, stuck beside me through this time of self- and family-sacrifice that lasted nearly 8 years.
After being with an advertising company for 6 of the years, my boss recruited me to build an advertising start up from the ground up with her. I had already left my former company and was looking for work, so this seemed to be a wonderful opportunity. Here’s the catch: in the small space of time between stressful advertising companies, I got pregnant. My boss acted supportive, despite the conversation she had with me above. I thought things were finally falling into place: I was going to be a successful advertising executive, I was going to have a baby after five years of trying, I was finally going to be HAPPY.
My life drastically changed instead. We had a lot of change in a short period of time. After a difficult pregnancy, I had my son and returned to work after a six-week maternity leave. Six weeks after I returned to work, I went to the office and found out our company was unexpectedly closing its doors. Two weeks later, my grandmother, my sweet Mimi, passed away at 93. Three months after that, we decided to move back to my hometown in Florida, sold our house and became Florida residents two months later. Seven months after that, my beloved father, who was one of my best friends on the planet, passed away from cancer. After that, I lived in a black hole. I’ve resided in this black hole ever since February 11, 2016.
I tried to get better. I started eating healthier, exercising, doing yoga, meditating… although all of these things helped, they didn’t cure this feeling of sadness and hopelessness. After months of trying to self-medicate, I started taking Zoloft to help with the depression. I finally felt like I was getting closer to being okay.
Fast forward to today, October 18, 2017 – the day I’m marking as my day of epiphany. I’m happy. I am a wife to an amazingly wonderful and loving husband, who has stood beside me through good and bad. I have an almost three-year-old who is the light of my life. We live along the gorgeous white sand beaches of Florida’s Emerald Coast, where I grew up. My days are no longer spent chasing this unattainable, dangling carrot of “success,” which, while I was actively chasing it, I equated to “happiness.” No, my days are spent just how I want to spend them: spending time with family and friends and living in my favorite little town that happens to be located in paradise.
You see, what I have discovered is that life has this way of getting you comfortable and then something happens and suddenly, the life you were living is no more. You wake up and see a different landscape surrounding you. You are surrounded by people who are totally different than the ones who surrounded you a short time ago. You lose people, sometimes willingly, sometimes by their own accord. Sometimes you lose people forever.
What I have spent the last three years trying to overcome is loss. What I’m seeing now and the reason I am starting this blog is that life is NOT about loss. Life is about growth. Life is about light, not darkness. Most of all, life is about love. It is about surrounding yourself with the things you love and the people who love you. I’ve been floundering in this black hole for over two and a half years. What I’m here to say is that life is what you make of it.
Not everything in my life is sunshine and flowers, but I tell you what: when you allow yourself to be where you WANT to be and not where others want you to be, you’ll find that somehow, you are able to make the little pieces of life fit.