She’s a Lesbian, Drug Addict,  Or Stripper: Why Else Would She Leave a Good Man?

She’s a Lesbian, Drug Addict, Or Stripper: Why Else Would She Leave a Good Man?


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.

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She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother


One of the worst memories I have about my divorce was the day my children found a family photo that had black tape over my face.  It was found in an album at my ex’s mom’s house. What was even more devastating is that my children didn’t have the heart to tell me themselves.

Days later I received a phone call from my mom telling me that my kids told her what they had seen, as they held back tears to explain to her that it was a family member who had done it.  Every emotion imaginable hit me all at the same time as I tried to swallow the rage.

My first thought was how do I begin to explain the unexplainable to my children.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what message was this sending them?

That their mother was someone that was no longer part of this family?

That divorcing their father meant I no longer existed in their world?

Or was it that I no longer mattered because of my choices?

I wasn’t ready to have a conversation about something that I was still trying to process.

I had no idea why this family member lashed out at me in this way.  I was raised to be respectful and kind to others and also to mind my own business.  I could never imagine doing that to anyone.

Why did he do it?

She Can’t Be Erased; She’s Their Mother

Was it because I am an Italian woman who chose to stand in her truth? You have to understand the Italian culture to make sense of this insanity.  In the Italian culture, you do not leave your marriage, no matter what the situation is. At least this is what I was shown.

I thought about my great grandmother who lived in Italy, and how much pain she must have carried in her soul.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out my great grandfather had a whole other family we knew nothing about.  I wondered what that betrayal did to her.

What wounds had she been made to carry?

My heart ached for her silence. How many other women before her stayed silent in marriages that no longer served them?

Was it my strength in leaving my marriage that offended this family member? Was it the fact that I was no longer going to be controlled by anyone or anything? Or was it just another man willing to throw a woman out like garbage because she was no longer submissive to her husband?

My truth and my courage sent an aftershock that rattled everybody.

Once the rage wore off I was left with a deep sense of sadness.  I understood why my great grandmother stayed. What was she going to do, leave my great grandfather and raise the children on her own? He financially supported the family.

Back then there were no options for mothers that wanted out of their unfulfilling marriages. Did men take advantage of this position of power because they knew women had no way out? I wondered what it would have looked like if she left him.

I realized that my divorce was so much bigger than just wanting out of a marriage.  I was breaking cultural norms that had never been done before. It was my truth that offended people. “How dare she break her family apart. What kind of mother is she?

She left a good man that gave her everything she could have ever wanted.  She doesn’t deserve to be part of this family”… this was the message I received loud and clear from the black tape over my face, and this is what landed on my children’s eyes.

I couldn’t make them unsee what they had seen, and I also didn’t want them to have hatred in their hearts for the ignorant behavior that was displayed upon them. I wasn’t going to let this person do what so many others before him had done…keep women from standing in their power by crippling their spirit.

No, I choose to rise instead.  Not only for myself but for the many women before me that didn’t have the power to do it.  I chose to rise for my children because I wasn’t going to show them that I needed to defend myself or prove myself worthy by giving this any more of my energy.  I chose to show them that the power of forgiveness is stronger than any stones thrown at me. That’s the legacy they will remember, a mom that stands in love can’t ever be erased.

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