January of 2020, I decided to leave the coldest place on earth—Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I took my then-1-year-old daughter with me, and we flew back to California, my home, leaving my marriage of six years.
Her dad and I agreed to bring our daughter back and forth from California to Winnipeg every month, that is, until March 2020, when her dad came to pick her up to shield her from the COVID-19 virus that had hit California pretty hard at that time.
Letting her go was the biggest mistake of my life. She hasn’t been back with me since.
As Canada closed their border and with the virus picking up speed, I had no idea when I would see my little peanut again. I had even missed her birthday in April. I had to watch her birthday party over a video call instead of being there in person. I couldn’t sleep, I felt sad and alone, and I cried every day. With the pandemic in full force, I felt even more lonely.
My days were filled with a mix of emotions—happiness because I was free from my toxic relationship and had reunited with an old friend, guilt for leaving my marriage and disappointing my family, and sadness in missing my daughter.
Her dad was bitter because I didn’t want to save the marriage, and he was using my daughter to try and control the situation. It wasn’t until June 2020, seemingly the longest two months of my life, when I saw her again. I had decided to spend a month in Winnipeg. My ex was unwilling to let my daughter travel with me, and with all of the travel restrictions, I was afraid to take her without a travel consent letter signed by him that the border agency usually requests.
With the next few months living life back and forth between Canada and California, while trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with my new partner, quarantining after every trip, and dealing with my ex’s controlling behavior, I juggled the idea of staying in Winnipeg to continue to be with my daughter or going back to California where home was.
I filed for divorce in September 2020, and the control over my daughter got worse.
I had to make a decision on where I was going to stay. Living the double life and not moving forward officially in any one place was hard on me, and I felt like my life was on pause. With no clear end in sight for my divorce, I decided to stay in California and go back to visit my daughter until the divorce settled.
I am still in the midst of my divorce, and we are still figuring out parenting time for my daughter, but as I reflect on my 2020, I see the work, the growth, and the transformation.
Leaving Winnipeg and my marriage led me to become more spiritual. I started to pray again because I needed it so badly. I learned how to meditate properly and consistently because I never felt peaceful and my sleep was off. The “Corona-Bonus” brought me to a place of going inward and “doing the work,” as a good friend of mine always says.
“Doing the work” meant living in my truth and not caring what everyone else had to say about it.
Being South Asian, I had to overcome my family’s culturally biased opinions of me and break away from the co-dependent relationships that weren’t serving me. That was work! It was like a second divorce. But I needed to go through that so I could live the authentic life I had left my old life for.
Oftentimes I felt so empty—as if my daughter had passed away. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to drink wine to numb the pain. I couldn’t go out and see friends because of the pandemic. I knew wine wasn’t going to solve the problem, so I went to therapy and learned more about myself and how to deal with the sadness of missing my daughter and my world turning upside down. I found light and personal growth.
I realized this last year and a half has been about my self-care, something I have overlooked for many years while giving my all to others in my life.
In my faith, we are asked to find things we are grateful for every day. It was so hard to do that most days until I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to think about the beauty of my situation. My aspirations in music, yoga, and writing have come alive again.
As I focus on the divine love surrounding my life, the pure joy of living helps me believe there is a beautiful journey here. There is always going to be hard stuff. With the clearing of my energy, I have started to find my purpose again. That purpose was there long before my daughter was born, and I doubt she would ever want me to give up on that. I am blessed.