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Ever Feel Like You Are Drowning?: How I Coped Instead Of Sinking

Ever feel like you are drowning? Not literally, but drowning in the  feeling of being so  overwhelmed with life and all the events that surround you?


Not too many years ago, I thought I would sink and drown. And, I didn’t see a lifeline in sight.  Fact is, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and exactly 30 days  after my diagnosis, my husband of 30 years died suddenly while out of town on what I thought was a business trip. Unfortunately, I discovered my beloved had betrayed our marriage vows and was cheating. I felt as if I was going down for the count –punch #1, breast cancer; punch #2, death of my husband/best friend; punch #3, the discovery of the betrayal. I thought the third punch was going to take me out. But, lucky me, there were many more battles and betrayals to come.


My days were filled with new discoveries of conspiracies and the aftermath of what happens after an affair. Only this was a bit different because I could not scream or holler at the man I trusted my entire adult life. I could not have my “Brenda Richie” moment where I bust in and beat down both their asses!!!

Oh no! Did the good girl really start to have thoughts of going back to the days of Vaseline on the face and earrings off the ears like I had witnessed during high school? Yes! I had imagined that. But the good girl still breathed inside of me and like every good girl does, I cried those silent tears and daydreamed the terror that raged inside away.

One of my strongest recollections of those days was when I had imagined what drowning would be like. I’ve heard that drowning is one of the most painful of deaths. The water seeps down slowly filling your lungs up as they tighten hard. You stay conscious long enough to know what’s happening but you cannot help yourself. It’s like paralysis has set in and you are watching, but  you cannot  speak or fight or move.  As your energy wans and your panic heightens, the water gently grabs you and pulls you down. You are going under. With one final effort you flail around wildly, desperately trying to grab onto something stable and nothing—no- no one is there. And you don’t want to believe this fact or admit to it.

I thought this was perhaps the worst possible death, until a side chick wormed her way into my life. Not only had my husband died in her presence, after his death, she still interrupted the life I had left.  The most chilling question I am frequently asked is,  “How are you  still standing today?” “ How did I not drown? “ And almost every day I ask myself the same question.

My method of survival came to me as I realized I could not fight the battles ahead as the ’good girl.’  And I could not see my  enemies through “good girl ‘eyes. So I did what was necessary. I had to become a murderer. It was the only solution for my survival. I killed the “good girl” in me. If I hadn’t, I would have surely died.

My story is not about race or age. My story is a universal one that speaks to the heartache of the betrayal of love, friendship, and commitment. Like so many women, I was raised as a ‘good girl’ to be the ‘good wife’ thinking about my husband first. But in the aftermath of his betrayal, I had to learn to be “selfish.” I had to put what I needed first. If I didn’t I was going to drown, and what good would that do for my loved ones who needed me more now than ever. But in order to help them, I had to save myself.

My first steps were to find out what damage had been done.  Staying up endless hours to retrace the path of a man who was living a double life. This meant facing the realities no matter where they took me. And believe me, it took me to places I had never been. I was on the hunt and on a mission. I had to say “no” to people who came looking for scraps and end the “niceties” to those who I knew meant me no good.

Almost a decade later, I am not swimming freely. I am still in the water, but I am holding on tightly to the edge as I  dangle in the deep end of the pool. But no one—absolutely no one – dares to come near the edge to push my head back under the water as in years past. I know the day will come when I can let go, lay back and float.





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