My page Welcome to the Edge shared a brief description of myself, but you are probably wondering who is this woman and what does she have to offer me. I do not put myself out there as an expert of any sort. I often wonder where people obtain their qualifications as experts, such as these self-proclaimed “parenting experts” and “marriage experts.” Because, honestly, while my marriage is strong and my kids are healthy, I have to admit that I don’t really know what the hell I am doing in most areas of my life. But I wake up every day with a smile and I tackle the challenges that face me and every night I breathe a sigh of relief that we all have survived another day. I think what qualifies me share the little information that I have acquired is simply my life experiences. I can share what I learned along the way, what mistakes I have made, and what things that I have done right. I feel that simply surviving some of trials that I have overcome obligates me to share this information with others in the event that it may make the ride a little bit easier for you.
So, about me. I hail from a small town in Pennsylvania where I grew up, graduated from high school, and graduated from college before leaving town. And when I left, I didn’t venture very far…only about 90 miles west, then 60 miles east, then back again for a while before the Army sent us to upstate New York. During my time in college, I was a student-athlete (swimming) with little direction post-graduation. When I was a 20 year old junior, my father passed away from lung cancer. This event turned my little universe upside down. But I survived. Upon graduation, I had no job so I began a short career in retail management. I quickly married my college sweetheart. And just as quickly, the marriage came to an ugly and abrupt end. Suddenly, the death of my father was the easiest tribulation that I ever had to overcome in my short 26 years of life.
At the time of my divorce, I was working in the financial services industry on Wall Street and attending law school at night. About six months later, when the novelty of being a newly single 20-something professional woman in New York City wore off, I began to plummet into the dark depths of a very frightening illness called Bipolar Disorder. And I struggled for nearly a decade to find my way out of that blackness. In the midst of this struggle, I graduated from law school, lost my mother to colon cancer, dated a very abusive man, lost all source of income, and felt unbelievably hopeless on many occasions. But I made a conscious decision that my life was not going to continue this way and I started making changes. A lot of changes. Drastic changes. I am happy to report that I did find my way back from the darkness and I live a completely happy and healthy and what some may call “normal” life. In fact, I am currently living the life I always dreamed of!
I met my husband, J, in 2008 just as I was gaining mental stability (probably not the best time to start a relationship or so the counselors would say, but something clicked, I told him everything, and we went for it!). We were married in 2010, bought the house of my dreams, and our first son was born in 2011. When our son was 8 months old, my world was disrupted again when J received deployment orders and was moved to Fort Drum, New York, for the few months leading up to deployment. I decided to stay in our home in Pennsylvania because I was pursuing my Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling at the time. Then I got pregnant with our second son, the deployment was canceled (thank my lucky stars), and we started planning to sell our house and reunite our family in northern New York. I had to give up my graduate studies, which upset me at the time, but now I have no regrets. I love being a stay-at-home mom! It is the hardest, most frustrating, most rewarding job I have ever done!
And then deployment orders came again. This time I was much more prepared: I had raised our first child alone from the time he was 8 months old until after his second birthday, so I had much more confidence in my parenting abilities; I was able to cultivate amazing relationships with some very extraordinary women in my military community; I have developed a network of support from friends and family that suits my unique circumstances; and I have found the strength within myself that every woman has but not every woman knows. And every day of my life, I feel blessed. Blessed for all I have. Blessed to be here. Blessed to be able to share with you all.
Keeping it on the edge,