So this is all I know to be true.
Everything I’ve gone through these past 3 years – everything that has happened – makes a good story.
And I’m a writer – at heart I am and always have been a writer.
So I should have been writing this all along.
The thing is – when you are going through it – it being something or things that are difficult and traumatic and chaotic and life changing – you have no time to write. You have no energy to write. You have no space to write.
And on the days that were quiet in between the days that were loud, you don’t want to write. You want to forget. You want to sleep. You want to binge watch Vikings on Netflix while drinking wine and eating cookie-dough.
And when the space between the bad days becomes longer. When you finally get to the point of wanting to heal, of seeing there may in fact be “a time after this bullshit” the last thing you want to do is relive the bad days, the trauma and write about them.
But then that voice in your head keeps saying, “This is good material.”
“People need to know this!”
“If you don’t write it down you will forget what happened, how this feels.”
And so you buy a new laptop and tell yourself now is the time to begin the writing and still, you don’t want to.
Because it feels like going backwards.
And because it is painful and lord knows you’ve had enough pain.
And still, you are still living this nightmare, so the bad days still happen and you say, “See, this is why I cant recover. This is why I can’t write. I cant get enough space.”
Until one day you realize, “Shit, I may never recover. I may never have the space. I may die before anyone really knows what happened or what it was like.”
And just like that, just as the moment you are unloading the dishwasher and for the millionith time thinking about HOW to write this story it comes to you.
Don’t start where it began.
Start where you are now.
And just like that, you begin the story…
Wednesday, May 24th – my boss is served with an FBI subpoena.
No one in my life knows as I juggle the fear and uncertainty in my work world.
Friday, May 26th – my therapist has an intervention with me and says I need to leave before my husband’s toxic habits and our deteriorating marriage hurts my children more than it already has.
Memorial Day weekend – my work world and my home world have both imploded.
I confront my husband and demand change. He refuses and won’t leave our home. I decide to leave.
A second subpoena is served and the media finds out.
I juggle reporters and calls and crisis management.
Now everyone knows, sort of. There is a lot I cannot say. There is a lot I cannot do. I am a confidant and a linch pin at work. I am a mother running a household at home.
The first Tuesday of every month the grand jury meets and we hold our breath.
I see a lawyer. I see a real estate agent.
With support of friends and family, I go through the process of leaving him.
We go through a summer of managing multiple press inquiries about my boss and live in a constant state of crisis management.
My son starts 3rd grade and my daughter begins VPK.
Another subpoena is served – this time asking for my emails. The media find out and we go through another round of media crisis. Now I’m in the hot seat.
We sign formal separation papers.
More people are interviewed by the FBI. I wait in fear for the knock at the door, more subpoenas, more articles.
The holidays. The first holiday season in 15 years without him.
My son has issues at school and needs to see a therapist.
More news stories.
The New Year, we decide to divorce. I work with my lawyer, I pay for it and I file it.
A search warrant for by boss’s texts gets leaked.
More crisis and news stories.
We fear the indictment is close.
Our anniversary. Three weeks later I go to court. We are divorced.
I’m very tired and can’t get out of bed. I go to the doctor for more depression medication. I find out that stress has re-activated the mononucleosis virus dormant in my system – which I didn’t even know I had when I was young.
They tell me to rest. I cannot rest. More news stories.
Our dog who we’ve had since she was born gets very sick.
More news stories.
One year since this all started.
My dad is diagnosed with prostate cancer.
My dog is in the beginning stages of liver failure and congestive heart failure.
My father’s test results indicate it may have spread to his bladder.
Fourth of July – we go to see a specialist in Tampa for my father, we find out it did not go to the bladder.
Treatment will begin at the end of summer.
My parents take the children and I on a two-week trip to Israel.
More news stories while I am traveling and constant fear my dog will die or my boss will get indicted while I’m overseas.
End of summer.
My father starts treatment.
My daughter begins kindergarten. My son starts fourth grade.
My dog dies. Two days later there is a hurricane.
I work non-stop for two weeks on hurricane recovery.
The city is in chaos.
An election loss that ensures us the indictment is closer. I can’t get out of bed again.
A few weeks later, two people are shot and killed at local yoga studio.
The city is in mourning.
Another holiday season to navigate alone.
We get the call.
Dec 12th – he is indicted.
Dec 13th – my father has his last radiation treatment and I join him to ring the bell.
The next week I’m put on leave and have to pack up both of our offices.
Hanukah and Christmas.
Around New Year’s I’m told where to report on Jan 8th.
I interview for other jobs but really just have the option that they gave me.
In my new position I continue to face my former my co-workers and my boss’s replacement. Panic attacks begin.
There is hearing to set the court date.
There is another hearing and the court date is finally set.
And now… and we wait.
The panic attacks set in. PTSD set off by a sound, a face, a story.
It’s June and his father gets sick.
There is something else happening behind the scenes and I’m shut out.
He’s at his lawyer’s office and gets the call. His father is not waking up.
His father is gone. He has 24 hours to accept a plea deal. It feels like giving up.
He accepts it and one month later he stands before a judge while I sit in a meeting.
It is an end but not the end.
More PTSD episodes at work.
Fights with my boss. We are no longer united. I’m truly alone.
Hearing and sentencing continues to be moved into the following year.
There is no closure. There are no answers.
The stories have died down.
The PTSD has died down.
Life has picked up a somewhat normal pace.
I try to focus on others in my life who have been there for me.
My ex and I frequently do things together as a family.
Things are getting better for the children.
My parents are healthy.
I am keenly aware of those blessings.
I’m given more responsibility at work and feel like a full member of the team.
I am more confident.
The distance between then and now grows. Contact has become minimal.
I am also more empty.
I come to accept an ever state of sadness.
This has allowed me to move more, be more, engage more in the life beyond all of this.
And though the daily fear has subsided, we wait for the sentencing, the next gut punch.
And while we wait, life goes on, and I begin to write…
You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the end.CS Lewis