It was May 19, 2017; I was on vacation with my family, in Destin, FL and was able to sneak away to lunch with my mom and two kids. I had just spent the last week, in one of my favorite places to visit, in bed and suffering from horrible depression. My mom was able to fabricate an excuse that allowed me to leave the condo, with both kids, and without my husband feeling like he needed to go with us, and go somewhere private for us to talk. She chose a Mexican restaurant that was just down the road that would occupy the kids and allow us to speak freely.
Let’s backtrack a little so you can understand the urgency of my mom sneaking me off. I knew I had been in a steady decline for a while; I had to have my medicine increased, yet again, a couple of weeks earlier and hard to start taking a mild form of Xanax to slow my mind so I could fall asleep. I had continually put on weight and was caring less and less about my appearance. On the weekends, instead of spending time with my kids, I would wake up around 9:00 am, eat something and get so exhausted that I would go back to sleep for three or four hours. I pushed my family further and further away until the relationships were so strained that they stopped asking what was wrong. Once a driven and ambitious professional, who got most of her worth and achievement from work, was now a hollow shell of herself. Ashamed, broken, and hopeless this is the woman I had become, the non-existent mother my children get to try to cheer up, a shadow of who I used to be. All of the things that made me, me, were gone.
Back to the restaurant in Florida. I sat across from my mom in a corner booth not able to make eye contact, knowing that I could not hide my anguish and pride any longer. With tears streaming down her face, she gently states “It is the time that you start being honest with yourself. If not for your well-being, for your children’s”. Unable to answer or remotely make an attempt to find the right words, she continued: “I know you have never been a fan of admitting defeat or that you made a mistake, but this is so far past maintaining your pride. You are withering away to almost nothing and your health impacted. Brooke, I am your mother, please tell me what is wrong!”
At that moment something in me broke. I could not keep up what little appearances remained; there was no chance of maintaining composure or trying to fake a smile and act like everything is okay. For once in over six years I had to be honest with myself and my family: I was in a failed marriage, with a physically, mentally and verbally abusive male (he does not deserve the descriptor of man) and it had entirely broken my spirit because I was too prideful to ask for help. Although I was never alone, I had utterly alienated myself in a separate world so I wouldn’t hear the dreaded words ‘I told you so!’
My mom and I sat in that booth and talked for what seemed like days. It turned out that is was only about an hour and a half because that was all the kids could take being seated, but it was all that I needed to find the strength to leave. For the wellbeing of my kids and myself, I decided to get out. While I was a remnant of who I used to be, I felt stronger and more empowered than ever before in my life.
I share my story not to glorify divorce or pull the pity card, but to show other women or victims of abuse that you can do it. You can choose to make the scariest decision to brave the world alone and be better off for it. There are many parts of this story that I am going to share on my journey as a single mom, but I wanted to make sure that is the first chapter I tell.