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I'm also mid-divorce, and moving back into my childhood home was the one thing I thought I'd never do. When my ex and I married 10 years ago, I was a lawyer at a big firm, working long hours and hating the tedium.
As our net worth increased, my self-worth plummeted, yet I was somehow unable to make the necessary changes in my life. Instead, like so many others, my husband lost his job, a week after my daughter was born. I was alone with a 3-year-old boy and an infant, the stitches from my cesarean section still in place. It was a dire situation, but the separation also brought some relief. A part of me felt hopeful that I could finally build a more peaceful and authentic life for myself and our kids—on my own terms. By this time, my children and I were living in a luxury building, in a downtown apartment on the Hudson River.
Every window framed the Statue of Liberty, yet I felt anything but free.
Yet even when I sold my first essay to , I felt like a dilettante.
After all, the little money I earned from writing barely covered my Visa bill. Soon, without structure to my day—or to be honest, financial pressure—I could barely produce any writing at all.
I don't have health insurance; I've even applied for food stamps.
But I don't have the luxury to fall apart, dillydally or quit lawyering just because it's not my passion. I remind myself that I'm not back where I started. The rent was ,500 a month, and now that my ex wasn't working, there was no money coming in.He helped when he could, but I paid our major living expenses from our joint savings, draining the account at an alarmingly rapid rate."My door is always open," my mother said when I worried out loud about our situation.I'm 38 years old, and my two kids and I have moved into my mother's house."You are my worst fear come true," an acquaintance tells me as she confesses that she's thinking of leaving her husband and is worried about the financial consequences. Then again, I never thought I'd get into my current financial situation.Whenever it was my ex's turn to take the kids for the weekend, I went for runs along the water, toward Lady Liberty.She was a swimmable distance, but I couldn't get to her.I told myself I needed a break from corporate life. Except once I had the time to write, I mostly frittered it away.I looked the part, with my sharpened pencils fanned out in a mason jar like flowers on my desk, a neat pile of leather journals and a corkboard full of pushpinned literary aphorisms.I didn't get a job because my husband earned a million a year.Instead, I went to museums, took yoga and did volunteer work, but I was merely killing time, dying on the inside. A few years after that, I got pregnant again, this time with a girl. I knew that having kids couldn't magically save my marriage, but my husband and I still loved each other, and I believed we'd do our best to make things work.