It has been a long time coming. From next year, to next month, to next week, to tomorrow. It has been lingering in the back of my head and heart for years. It came to a head about 6 days ago, where I just found myself sobbing at my dining room table while typing on my laptop.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was spinning a lot of plates, but I didn’t know anymore where I was in any of it. Mom. Wife. Attorney. Writer. Mental Health Advocate. Visiting Professor. Where was I in all of this? My few years on the audition circuit for theater and TV gave me excellent training in looking like everything was ok. But there were cracks. People saw them. I felt them deepening.
What I did know is that I didn’t wake up with the zest for the day I used to. What I knew is that I didn’t have nearly the patience I usually had. What I knew is that simple tasks were REALLY really difficult. Was I a little bit (maybe even a lot) depressed? You bet. Did anxiety sometimes paralyze me to the point where I could sit and have 20 minutes pass and not know it? Indeed.
Since giving birth to our twin boys almost 6 years ago, my work has been an ongoing conversation. I have been a sole practitioner in the area of Assisted Reproductive Law since 2002. It’s a unique and exciting and when things go right, fulfilling area of the law. I help people become parents – what isn’t to love about that? It’s a field full of compassionate, intelligent and beautiful (inside and out) people. At my very worst, as a new widow, this field picked me up and gave me back my life. I worked for it sure. I gave it everything I had, and sometimes that was 24/7 for weeks on end, and sometimes it wasn’t so much, but my colleagues supported me in ways I will always be so grateful for. Tears form in my eyes even typing those words.
As a soon to be mom, I couldn’t imagine a better job. After having an office and realizing that most of the time I was in that office by myself because the vast majority of my clientele didn’t live near me, I adopted a home office approach. It was the perfect scenario as a soon to be new mom. I would take a couple months off when they were born, and then have a nanny to help – and an amazing nanny we had until the boys were about 9 months old. Then we were beyond lucky to find another amazing nanny to take over. Mary Poppins came to save the day – and mommy – in so many ways.
What I hadn’t told many people is that I was served notice of a lawsuit two weeks before the boys were born. Against me. For millions of dollars. What should have been the most amazing time of our lives was marred by this ridiculous turn of events. And even though everyone told me I had nothing to worry about, and I knew that I did nothing wrong, it hung over me and us like a dark cloud for the first two years of the boys’ lives. It was always there. I worried about it all the time. Even on the days it was just supposed to be “Mommy and Dudes Day” I found myself checking my phone constantly for updates. As dates for motions and trial prep came closer, the anxiety and mood shifts I experienced were palpable. It wasn’t fair. It was heartbreaking. I still ache for those years.
I prevailed. The claims against me were dismissed. But the damage was done. As hard as I tried to dive back into my work, I couldn’t at the level I had before. Before, I always, always saw the good in everyone. Always gave them the benefit of the doubt. The lawsuit against me changed that.
Several weeks after the lawsuit was dismissed we lost a dear friend to suicide. The hole in my heart grew bigger. Then, 7 weeks later, my father in law died suddenly. And my heart shattered more. The hits, they just kept coming. And, they continued.
I share all of this because it’s not surprising that it all finally came to a head (almost 4 years later) in the last few months. Came to a head 6 days ago with me sitting at the dining room table and sobbing because I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted professionally anymore, or if I even WANTED to be a professional anymore. What I wanted was those years back. But life doesn’t work that way. So I had to come up with the next best thing.
So after several heart to heart talks with my husband, we made the decision that I would close up shop. I would stop practicing law and take some time to teach and write and find myself again. As so many of us do, without even realizing it, I have ignored myself in a lot of this along the way. I’m horrible at self-care, and I am now realizing what that has done to me over the last few years. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.
It was such a hard decision. There has been a lot of self-doubt. Delays. Thinking that something else might work. But the reality is that I need to take a step back. Instead of looking at this decision as something that will limit me, I am choosing to look at it as something that will actually fully open me up.
There is a famous saying by John Burroughs: “Leap, and the Net Will Appear.”
Here is to leaping, full force, open armed and open hearted, ready to see where the net meets me.