28 October 2011

My Personal Ground Zero

mormon divorce, brooklyn brownstone, park slope

When I learned some of these concepts I've been writing about on this blog, it was like I got hit over the head with a frying pan. 
Until then, I had not been living in the way I do now.  I always thought I was a decent person & was reacting to my life in the way anybody would, so when I realized that there was a better way to live, it was like...what?....my unhappiness has been due to my own choice?  I can't blame it on my infertility or on the way I've been treated by others?  Since making these realizations, I have come a long, long way in realizing that I have control over the way I experience my life.  So I know it's possible to make changes. 

Back in the day, I used to succumb to fear, doubt, anger, insecurities, sadness & worry.  All of them.  Often.  I literally let these emotions rule my life.  To give you an idea...

Several years ago, I felt dead.  Yep.  DEAD.  At the time, it was the only thought that came to my mind to describe how I felt.  I was so overcome with grief and sadness so, so very deep, that I didn't know if my body would continue to breathe on it's own or if I could still put one foot in front of the other as I commuted on the subway to and from Brooklyn & my midtown office.  I literally thought I might die in my sleep from grief or become one of those "sick passengers" on the train because I had fallen to the floor.  You see, my former husband, had just let me know, in all seriousness, that he didn't love me and he never had.  Ouch.  We had been married about two of seven years at that point.

Unfortunately, for many years, the issue would come and go.  No one knew.  I never told a soul.  The first time this came up, I was sitting at my desk at work in midtown.  I was so broken.  I couldn't go home that night.  A quick search on Priceline landed me a 4-star hotel downtown.  After I paid for the room, I saw where I would be staying .... at the Millenium Hilton, literally across the street from the pit of Ground Zero.  This was very soon after 9/11.  You may know from my previous post that this was the LAST place on earth that I would have viewed as a sanctuary that evening.  So there I was, on the darkest, most lonely night of my life, heading straight towards that horrific pile of mangled steel.  The thought of it made me sick.  I could barely handle my life in that moment let alone the thought of trying to sleep with that scene outside my hotel window.  So I begged (with tears) for a room that would not face Ground Zero.  And I got it.  I had no idea what direction I would be facing.  I figured I'd be stuck in a room facing a garbage shoot, which I would have welcomed.  But when I opened the curtains of my room, I saw this (!).......my beloved home of Brooklyn.

mormon, divorce I cried with gratitude.  It was so unexpected.  It was the most beautiful, magnificent, sparkly scene I had ever laid eyes on.  It literally took my breath away....I just stared and stared.  I could see where I used to live with my brother in Cobble Hill.  I could make out the unlit area, which was my beloved Prospect Park.  I could see the BQE and the Brooklyn Bridge, roads I knew well from driving around this city and making this place my home.   Somehow, for a moment, I was able to just take in the beauty and forget about the pit on the other side of the building, and the pit in my heart.

But even though I had a moment of peace, I still wept all night long.  And trembled.  And had way too many visions of planes crashing into buildings.  I remember wondering how I could possibly get out of the skyscraper I was in if there was a fire.  In and out of sleep, I envisioned myself running down the stairs. 

My husband did call my cell earlier that night when I didn't return home.  I refused to tell him where I was.  He was worried.  And in my dysfunctional state, I hoped that he was suffering.  And I know that he was. 

The next morning -- I booked a very expensive hotel massage as if I had money to burn (why not?)  It turns out it was one of best massages of my life.  The masseuse was a ripped, middle-aged woman with a short, man-like hair cut, huge guns, rolled up sleeves and arm tattoos.  She looked like a male body builder and she massaged me like nothing else.  I never realized how powerful and healing human touch could be.  I just laid there and wept as she kneaded my frail body.  That woman will never realize what she did for me in that moment.

I regained some strength.  And then I took a cab (you bet I did) home to Brooklyn.  My upstairs neighbor on 3rd Street saw me hop out of a cab early that Saturday morning, still in my work clothes from the previous day.  I think he wondered what I was doing.  So did I.  Everything felt different.  I was greeted by a sorrowful and apologetic husband who tried to retract his previous words, which I accepted.  But, this was just the beginning of some of the darkest days & years of my life.

I am grateful for those hard experiences.  All of them.  It is those difficult moments that added up over time and finally got me to the place where I had had enough.  I wanted to see if there was a way out of the pain I had been living with.  I got to the point where I didn't want to live like that any more.  I had hope that there had to be a better way.  And I set out to find it.  And as many of us may know, seek & you will find.....and I did

Loving you all.  And hoping that you all can look up, even during your worst trials.  Know that if you have the desire & begin to make changes (even small ones), things can & will get better.   


p.s.  Today all my lower east side dreams came true!  I got to go to some places I've been wanting to try for 12 years, but just never have had enough leisure time to visit.  They lived up to all the hype.

Babycakes  - loved the gluten free, dairy free, sugar free vanilla cupcake...mostly the vegan frosting was to die for.  How did they do that?  Must get the cookbook!

Economy Candy - Est. 1937.  It's full of vintage candies.  I felt like a little girl at the 7-11, dreaming of buying all the candy.  I settled for a square of that Turkish style pistachio nougat.  Gluten free.  I got to go to Turkey one time and fell in love with those nougat squares then.  I have a hard time passing them up.  Delicious!!

Katz's Deli - Est. 1888!  I've been before, but it's always a treat to eat that pastrami and those fresh pickles.

Doughnut Plant - I dreamed of going there for years. But I missed my chance as I now can't eat doughnuts.  But it was still satisfying to go there with Danny and some family in town visiting.  They really, really loved their doughnuts.  The flavors are amazing.


  1. I love that you are so open. People don't talk abou this subject openly but everyone has hard things they are going through. Love it!

  2. Mara - As always, thank you for this.

  3. Oh Mara....this is heavy. Thanks for this.

  4. Wow! So my dearest little Kamilah sent me a link to your blog, and I have to say thanks to her and to you. Thank you for being so completely honest. I'm thirty-five...I'll be thirty-six in about one month. I am not looking forward to it. I'm single...never married. And it sucks. Hard. I don't know why reading this has really opened up a valve in me. I feel so much, strangely, of what you must have felt. Even though I've never been where you are, I know what it is to reach your ground zero. Last Sunday I prepared a lesson for RS. And I came across a thought from Elder Oaks. Here it is, along with my own thoughts about it from my blog.

    From Elder Oaks: "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares you for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares you to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost." While preparing a lesson on trusting in God, I discovered this little gem. I especially like that last clause - that true faith helps us "persist through the disappointments of those [opportunities] that are lost." Sometimes I think that life is a lesson in accepting lost chances. Perhaps that is because lost chances teach us to take advantage of opportunities that place themselves in our paths now. Probably everyone has regrets. Like failing and falling short, those disappointments help us to rise up to new opportunities. I most certainly believe that is what faith is - it teaches us to persist through the most rueful moments in our lives. It teaches us that new chances will come. It teaches us that we can take hold of those chances and move forward.

    Thank you for sharing your faith and your hope in such a real, honest way. You made my day!


  5. Wow, that would be so heartbreaking to have a spouse say they never really loved you. Holy crap, it makes infertility seem much smaller. It's neat to hear your perspective now knowing that you have found the love of your life. Thank you for this raw post!

  6. Mara,

    This was raw and I loved it. I sort of feel the same pain many times with a husband who struggles with a pornography addiction. Your blog just touches my heart.

  7. Reading this reminds me of my own "ground zero". A few years back I was still married to a man who struggled with a serious addiction and chose to let it win. One night I was literally on the floor in our bathroom bawling my eyes out (again). I was so full of sorrow and felt like my heart was literally breaking. I felt hopeless and miserable. I didn't know what to do. I cried out, "Heavenly Father, I don't want to feel like this anymore!" And immediately, a peaceful feeling came over me and a calm thought entered my mind, "You don't have to." I was filled with peace and love and instantly stopped crying. I stood up, wiped my eyes, and went to bed. I didn't know what the future held or what was going to happen or what I was going to do. But I knew I would be okay. I knew my Heavenly Father was aware of me and loved me. That night has changed my life, but I hadn't thought about it for a while. Thanks for this post and the reminder.

  8. thanks for sharing this, it's kinda nice to know that everyone has moments like these... and I kind of think your previous husband is not a nice guy, for stringing you out for 5 years after this....that had to be extremely painful, and hard to live like that.
    BUT you obviously have learned how to be a kind, happy, loving, graceful, beautiful woman because of this long trial and you are helping others as well. This just proves that trials are for our own good and they will mold us into who we are truly meant to be.

  9. Michelle - I totally agree with what Elder Oaks said, thanks for sharing!

    Nicole - Thank you for sharing your experience, it means a lot to me and others to know those experiences are available to all of us.

    Melissa - thanks so much for your comment. It certainly was difficult for a few years, and as I've described, I felt very lost for some time & didn't know how to handle it in the best way. It was the most difficult time of my life. That said, I don't think he intentionally wanted to say things that hurt me...I think he just wasn't in his best place at that point in time but was doing the best he could. It was so liberating for me to finally view this life as a place where we are all just trying to become better - it helped a bunch in forgiving him.

  10. Mara, it pains me to think of you silently suffering. I do have memories of you where I could see the sadness and pain in your eyes- though you hid it well. I wish I could have helped you then. I wish you could have confided in me- or anyone. I am so sorry that you were suffering. I am so thankful that you are so happy and healthy now. I am glad that you turned these negative experiences into a positive experience. Thank you for being strong!

  11. This...wow. This has left me in ridiculous tears at my desk. I also have a personal Ground Zero from similar conversations with my ex-husband, and I am so grateful to see someone else reflect back on theirs with such honesty and openness and, I don't know, beauty? It seems odd to describe it that way, perhaps, but that's how I feel.

    Thank you for sharing this.


  12. I know how it feels to struggle in silence. Like Anonymous above, my husband struggles with pornography. It's not our problem to divulge, so we struggle in silence. I've been at Ground Zero multiple times, and, although I hate to think about it, may end up there again in the future. But for now things are looking good. I have learned so much in this trial. I have a greater appreciation for people who struggle, I am less judgmental, I am more confident in myself, and I am closer to my Heavenly Father. I know I'm not out of this trial yet (and may never be) but I can already see the blessings and strength I have acquired because of it.

  13. Mara-

    I was given the link to your blog by a lady in my home ward. After spending a lot of time reading through your posts, I just have to leave a comment. Well, honestly, I wish I could come over to your house and talk with you in person but I'm across the country. Story short: I'm 23, married for six weeks, he left while I was at work and sent me a text message. And that was that. It's been several months now of healing and getting back on my own feet, but you said it best when you said it feels like "the rug is ripped right out from underneath you." I felt like my entire life, everything I had ever worked for and the person I worked to become, was completed void, and I was nothing. I even questioned covenants and Heavenly Father's awareness of me; how could He allow His daughter to go through something like that? I saw nothing but ground zero over and over again. But then I come across people like you: you're beautiful and happy and confident and wise. You're a survivor! And I honestly believe that because you went through such a tragedy you are even MORE beautiful and happy and confident and wise than you ever were before. People like you are REAL, because you have experienced the harder side of life. And I admire you for that. I am definitely going to add you to my network and keep coming back to read your thoughts.

    Thank you for being so brave to share.

  14. I am new to your blog but have been hopping around all evening, between playing "zoo" and changing diapers, that is! What a beautiful, honest story you tell. Thank you for that! I will definitely keep coming back.

    My name's Erica, btw! Nice to meet you!

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