I wish I could say this title is clickbait, but it’s not. These were the exact words used to describe me in the wake of my divorce. “Why else would Marisa leave a good man, she must be a lesbian.”
I know, unfreaking believable!
Why Else Would She Leave a Good Man?
My wanting a divorce made sense to “them” because, in their mind, my sexuality was on the fence. I mean, I can’t make this up if I tried. But a drug addict and a stripper? I have yet to make sense of any of it.
This news traveled through the Italian community like wildfire. My parents even questioned the validity of the accusations. I thought to myself, “Who are ‘these people’ that are saying this stuff? Where did they get this information? Why are they making up lies about me?”
Nobody could tell me where this originated, but this is what cowardly circulated back to me through family members. I had nobody to confront and ask why they were making up lies about me, but still, I had questions.
I wanted to know, “Why do you feel the need to pretend you know anything about my marriage? Why would you make up lies that landed on my children’s ears? How is my divorce any of your concern? Have I offended you in any way that you think you have any right in attacking my character? Does my divorce threaten you somehow?”
These questions echoed deep inside of me.
And it got me thinking who are “they,” these people that I so loyally lived my life for, the ones that I worried about tarnishing my image to, continually walking on eggshells because God forbid “they” may not see me as “the good girl” any longer?
I grew up rooted in the belief that I needed to have, as the Italians say, “La Bella Figura,” which translates literally to the beautiful figure. La Bella Figura is critical in Italian culture; it’s a way of life. Italians are hardwired with the belief that image is everything, the way people see you matters more than what lies behind closed doors. They will do anything and everything to protect the family’s “figura.”
You can see how my divorce dismantled my family’s Bella figura. I set the house on fire by asking for a divorce. To “them,” I became a loose cannon, untrustworthy, and reckless. My image tarnished and disgraced.
It’s a heavy cross to carry when you’re living life for other people.
How many more years would I have gone on that way had they not said these absurd judgments about me? Would I have continued to live my life in divorce as if they were watching over me, still trying to please others as if they owned my life?
Hearing them say those things about me was the smack in the face reality check I needed to show me just how ridiculous all of it was. This was the small-minded mentality that I had been living my life for? That I was seeking approval from? That I lost myself to?
It was time to detach from a generational, cultural belief that was no longer serving the life I wanted to live. Let me just say that breaking cultural chains is not for the faint of heart. It takes massive courage to step off the path of least resistance and to cultivate a life lived in truth.
Living my truth became more important than my image. I was no longer willing to neglect my spirit, my voice, and my reality for La Bella Figura. As a mother, this was not a burden I wanted my children to have. To live life, feeling obligated to appease others.
I can’t even begin to describe the freedom that comes with living a life that’s true to who I am and who I want to be. Brene Brown writes about exactly this in her book, “Braving the Wilderness.” Brene writes, “True belonging is not about fitting in, pretending, or making other people around us comfortable because it feels safe. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
Braving the wilderness is about having the courage to stand alone because you belong to nobody but yourself.
*Join my Facebook group dedicated to women who are contemplating divorce, are separated or already divorced HERE. It’s my intention to create a safe place for authentic healing, the kind of healing that reconnects you to your power.
If you are going through a divorce and you’re feeling alone, confused, or stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.