Wonder//

My #OptionB Story of Resilience

How I persevered.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

“My son could have been in a gang, my daughter could have been pregnant. We defied all statistics.”

My husband left in 2006. We’d been married thirteen years. He moved to another state and started a new family. I had $120, two kids, two months of outstanding mortgage payments, and an empty refrigerator. Back then I didn’t have family or friends nearby.

My doctor said, “You’re beyond clinical depression.” I was tormented with the idea of suicide. I thought, “My children would be so much better off if I wasn’t here, because how can I be a good parent?”

But actually, my children helped me the most.

I wanted to stay in bed and hide. Because of my kids, I couldn’t do that. I’m a lawyer by profession, and I had to find a job with consistent benefits.

My good friend helped me. Her husband had died very suddenly a few years before. She said, “There were days that I just did not want to get up. But I had to. No matter how hard it is, you’ve got to get up and just keep going, baby.”

I had to let people know that I needed help. I had a hard time accepting that. One day my friend called and said, “I’ve got four hundred dollars for you to buy school clothing for your children.” I had to humble myself. If I didn’t humble myself and go to a food pantry or allow people to give me money, then we just simply weren’t going to make it.

Every time I would hit a low point, I’d think, “There should be a manual that tells you how to deal with this.” That’s why in 2013 I decided to start telling my story to encourage other people. I’ve written about it in The Huffington Post, I’ve given a Tedx talk. That was a watershed year for me.

Writing about my story is the work that gives me the most fulfillment.

As a lawyer, I’ve seen real differences in how African American children are treated versus white children. I’ve seen inequality lead kids to join gangs, get pregnant at a young age. That could have happened to my children. But we defied all statistics. My son won a full college scholarship. He’s about to graduate, and he already has a job in Atlanta. My daughter is a high school senior. We hope she’ll get a scholarship too.

When my husband left, my world had become incredibly narrow and small. Him leaving saved me. At the beginning I didn’t see it this way, but it freed me. Because of my journey over the last ten years, my world has become so big.

_________

Stephanie Mitchell Hughes is an attorney, writer, speaker, and respectful disrupter. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Thrive on Medium, and mariashriver.com. Watch Stephanie’s Tedx talk and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Image Credit: Jeff Swensen/The Verbatim Agency for OptionB.Org


Originally published at optionb.org.

Originally published at medium.com

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