The Preface

I've had my fair share of adversity. I'm not a fragile woman who is afraid of a broken nail or an insult, and I have more personality and drive in me than the average Jane. I run. I meditate. I eat well, but love to indulge. I'm not for the faint of heart.
I was raised by a single mom, along with my autistic sister. If my childhood could be reduced to a slogan it would be the slogan for a flower-power feminist sports company. You know: you never know until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes, women can be anything that men can be, now shut up and do it.  She busted her ass to get me through college; I busted my ass to get me through college, and we did it.  I remember the day, that summer after we graduated from college, that my best friends took me to the airport and put me on a plane to Paris.  I remember thinking: I did it. Life from here on out is going to be awesome. I'm going to climb the ranks of stardom and be an international opera star. Not a worry in the world.
But, c'mon, we live in reality, and it never works like that. Reality was being an au pair, working 60 hours a week, for a Bourgeois family in Paris, never mind I didn't speak French, and living in an 8 square meter (86 square feet) apartment with a shared flushing hole in the ground for a toilet (and no, its not an exaggeration. Google Turkish toilet. I dare you). So, I busted my ass some more and slowly, but surely, it started paying off. Life was looking up. I was performing and getting good feedback.
Then I met E. That charming, handsome, moving on up the career chain Frenchman. He was quirky and fun, if not a bit unreliable. He was my biggest fan. And I was like this is it. This is the perfect guy. Until he became jealous of sharing my attention. With others. With singing. Until he no longer found me feminine enough. He convinced me to quit singing and become more practical. More pragmatic. Sure, I should have known better.  After all, I was a psychologist's daughter. I knew all the traps. I was headstrong, stubborn, and outspoken. There was no way that I was being manipulated.
From there, to this day, I don't understand what happened. I stopped spending time with my friends and little by little stopped having any emotional reactions to anything, unless it was to defend myself against yet another accusation. I remember the day I gave birth to our second daughter, after 17 hours of unmedicated labor, and not feeling anything. Not joy. Not love. Not pride. Nothing. I think that was the moment I realised something was wrong. I know, looking back on it, it was a classic emotionally abusive scenario which ended with a call to the police for domestic violence.
If there was one thing I was taught as a kid, it was if it becomes physical, you leave and you don't look back. So, I did just that with my girls, but it has been a long and excruciating process with an outlook that keeps getting bleaker and bleaker. I've had my working rights revoked as a foreign national due to the pending divorce, and because the incident happened in one country and I was a resident of another, I am not entitled to a humanitarian aid visa. I cannot return to the US with my daughters because it is a violation of the Hague convention and I could be charged with child abduction, but even given all of that, I would leave all over again if I had to.
So, here it begins. The Phoenix of my life. Everything burned to the ground. Razed. Destroyed. And now I rebuild it.


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