“Do you have any assets?”
“What do you mean?” I asked the volunteer lawyer sitting across from me at the WIZO office.
“I mean, do you own anything? Property, a car, investments?”
“Just the house and the two cars. But they belong to both of us.” I answered.
“Do you have any family here? Anyone in Israel who could support you?”
She saw the worried look on my face.
“Don’t feel bad. I just need to know what is yours so I can prepare you for the divorce.”
What is yours. I fixated on these words.
I had lost everything that was mine: My marriage, my family, my identity, my trust in men. Like the earth had dropped out from underneath me, leaving me hanging in mid-air. I watched it plummet at speed until it was nothing more than a tiny dot in the dark atmosphere.
I hung there in the darkness for a while – in shock, in hurt. Deciding what to do next is hard when you don’t understand how you got where you are. Then one morning, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.
“Hi Leigh, it’s Hannah. We worked together a few years ago, remember me?”
“Yes, of course.” I answered.
“I’ve started at a new company as the Director of Marketing. We need a freelance copywriter and I immediately thought of you. Are you available?”
I had put all of my freelance writing retainers on hold when I separated from my husband. The darkness is a cold and foggy place, where new thoughts and ideas cannot exist.
But that morning, Hannah’s question awoke something inside me. A part of me that was there before I was a wife and a mother.
Writing was something I knew. I chose it as my career because there was a high demand for English-speaking writers in Israel, and I was committed to making it on my own here. When I was writing, I was focused, motivated, creative and happy. Just me and my thoughts, the way I liked it.
I told Hannah that I was available, and the fog started to clear. I sat down at my laptop for the first time in months, and focused. Soon the motivation came. And then the happiness.
I called all my former clients to let them know I was back in business. I even rented space at Wework to get out of the house and meet more self-employed people like me.
My business was the one thing that remained constant in my life when everything else was changing. It helped me focus on the things that I could control, and less on the things that I had no power over. I could shape my business in any way I wanted, to fit the new life I was building for myself and for my kids. And no matter what happened, no one could take that away from me.
“I just need to know what is yours so I can prepare you for the divorce,” the lawyer said.
“I have my own business.” I answered. “That’s mine.”