Working through life changes

ocean, married life, divorce

I’m a native Southern Californian and I’ve swam in the Pacific ocean my entire life but it wasn’t until I became an adult that I gained a healthy respect for the ocean. The ocean is immense and powerful. You can’t mess with the ocean.


I’m so glad 2014 is over. I want to act like 2014 never happened. I want to forget about 2014.

2014 was one of the roughest years of my entire life. It took my breath away, much like a crashing wave in the ocean. The kind that knocks you off your feet and once you find the surface and pop up for air, you look up to see another wall of blue water crashing over you.

I’ve always made it a point to be authentic on this blog, sharing parts of my life both big and small, good and bad and I won’t stop now. This is definitely one of those “bad” parts. Here is to another year of even more authentic blogging.

I’ve been married for seventeen years. I love my husband and the family we’ve built together. He’s been my best friend, fellow artist, my soulmate and he’s the father of my six children. But this year, it all felt like it was starting to fall apart at the seams.


Life has a funny way of happening with or without your consent. It was easy to get caught up in married life with kids (six kids, no less) — the endless laundry piles, soccer practice, math tutors, grocery shopping, illnesses, mortgage payments, birthday parties, dentist appointments, church, etc. In my mind, it was “never a good time” to address our issues — much less my own issues — because life was too crazy and we were trying to raise six kids.

So I did what I always did — just buried my hurts, my fears and my concerns. After all, this has been my go-to method of coping for as far back as I can remember. Just bury it deep down inside and act like there is nothing wrong. Escape into a dreamworld of art, books and sleep. Or, eat. Eat to make you forget about what’s really bothering you, to fill that empty place within.

I guess my heart and mind decided 42 years of burying feelings was long enough. All the icky, painful stuff bubbled up to the surface and affected all aspects of my life and several negative habits started to form.


I began to neglect the things that made our home life happy.  My faith in God, something that was a cornerstone in my life for the past 18 years, all but withered and died. All that eating-my-feelings made me gain a lot of weight. I started smoking “recreationally” again, but not just at night, it was all throughout the day. Anything to be numb. My kids were running amok. And finally, I worked too much and I never got any sleep.

It took the reality of almost losing my family for me to realize that things had to change.

I’ve had to peel back the layers of my life and confront things that I’d much rather forget about. I got some help and began to talk about things — hurts from my parent’s divorce, abandonment and trust issues I developed. I stripped away unnecessary things in my life so I focus on getting my work done and spend time with my kids. I’m in the process of working on my relationship. I began to pray again.

There is nothing quite like your life falling apart for you to realize how much you need God in your life.

I began to be honest with myself. And no matter how scary that prospect was,  I allowed myself to feel.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve made it through to the rainbow on the other side. That my life is amazing. That my marriage is better than it’s ever been. That I have all the answers.

But I don’t.

I only have two things. Love and hope.

That’s all I need at the moment. Happy 2015. I hope this year is my year.

Image source: Flickr/Raul Lieberwirth
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There are 26 comments

  1. Patricia

    Thank you for choosing to ask for prayers when you needed it most and including me in that list.

    Know that I am praying still.

    And hoping with you.

    For FULL reconciliation, restitution, and redemption. Because the God that we serve can do all that and more!

    Lots of love and aloha from paradise 😉

  2. Pattie

    It takes a lot to work on issues. Congrats on being a chingona and doing your part to make it better. Keep the faith and remember that you are loved . XOX

    1. Denise Cortes

      Yes! I have to embrace my chingona-ness because all this stress makes you doubt yourself so much. Thank you, chica. xo

  3. Helena

    Dear Denise, thank you for opening up and sharing. For me 2008 is the year I want to forget, it was rough tough motherloving year. There was a lot of pain but also a lot of growing up…give yourself some time…it’s taken me almost 7 years to accept and realize that I needed that year and all that happened to learn and grow. Last year brought changes and challenges, a different kind, the kind that makes you want to take chances and trust in yourself.
    Thanks again for sharing your process…sending you hugs and much love! Happy 2015

    1. Denise Cortes

      Thank you Helena. It feels good to know there are other people who made it through a year like this. Hugs to you, too. xo

  4. Melanie

    I have been there, in a slightly different way. I am starting to see the end of the rainbow. I feel stronger and more authentically *Me* than I have since I was a child. Prayers and positive energy coming your way, mama.

    1. Denise Cortes

      I’ve always felt authentically me but then again, when trauma happens at an early age, your identity is all wrapped up in it, right? Thank you for the prayers and the positive energy. xo

  5. Karen Erickson

    welcome to the club! I’m am blessed and honored to have you join us! I know you are surrounded by wise women who you can turn to for wisdom or just to share what’s on your heart without feeling like you’ll be judged, but just in case you ever find them unavailable you can always try me. There is treasure in the storm! LOTS of it! I love you! You’re an amazing woahman! It is a blessing to know you!

  6. Vicki

    Oh my friend. I feel your pain. On so many fronts. I’m not a writer, so I could never have put it so elegantly, but I’m right there with you. Searching, praying, begging, crying, dreaming, dreading, eating, screaming, hiding, laughing, and hurting. I pray 2015 is the start to enjoying the true abundant life God always had in store for us. Love you and praying. Oh! And our birthday’s are coming up!


  7. Mari

    Best of luck to you in 2015 and thank you for such an honest share. Seems like your on the right track for you and your family and that is all you can hope for. Again thank you and who knows if this post may help someone else take a step in brighter direction 🙂

  8. Yvette

    Real talk Denise…. real life….give it to God. I love the truthfulness the realness of your blog.

  9. Geez Louise!

    “But her delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law she meditates day and night. She will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither;
    and in whatever she does, she prospers.”Psalm 1

  10. Vanessa Atchley

    Thank you for sharing from a vulnerable place…especially in a world that so easily deceives us into wearing masks and to quickly say, “I’m fine.” Your realness is Christ’s courage and strength being displayed in and through you. It is comfortable to stuff or tuck away what’s inside of us…that’s easy and often our normal, but it takes courage to look into those deep places God has been longing for us to look into WITH Him. I will be praying for you as you journey with Jesus. He walks with you at the pace of grace. Love and hope is often where it begins.

  11. Cristy S.

    Girl, you have always been SO beautiful in your honesty. I know our Lord will use this and you will see GREAT days ahead. Keep writing, as always I love reading you! xoxo ~Cristy

  12. Kim

    THANK YOU for your authentic post here! I too am a child of divorce and have had those hurts inflamed as I grew up and in the past five years with my husband and his family. It is really hard to see things from God’s perspective when we feel hurt and betrayed. I know He is molding and shaping us through fire, but does it really have to hurt so much sometimes?? Ugh, basically my 2013-now has been your 2014. 2015 WILL be our year, sister! Choose positivity in the midst of working through the “stuff”. Stop to really bask in the joy in your life and all the small things that make it so 🙂 Clear out the clutter in your mind and make a conscious choice each day to choose happiness! You deserve it! Praying for you, my dear. We are all a work in progress 🙂

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