Cynthia's story is a powerful and inspiring one. Here she tells it in her own words:
"At that time, it felt like it came out of nowhere, but looking back now ‚maybe it didn't. I suppose a little voice inside me suspected something for a while but that voice wasn't loud enough to be heard, until that day. That day, the floor beneath me was yanked without a warning, my heart stopped beating, and my breath felt like it was stolen from me, much like my life as I knew it. That day, I woke up to what felt like someone else's life and was forced to play a role that I didn't understand, a role that didn't belong to me, a role I didn't want. That day, I was left standing on my own, 30 years old with a six-month-old at hip and on my way to divorce. The decision to go through a separation, and later a divorce, wasn't one that was taken lightly nor was it made quickly. The days that followed were harsher than the last and the pain of separation was an unbearable grief to carry that weighted every step I took. Loneliness, anger and despair took over every part of my life and pushed me down a dark hole that seemed impossible to crawl out of.
As if the inner battle wasn't enough weight to carry, the pressures and stigma that still exist in society for single moms brings a shame that softens, yet hardens your heart, making you want to shrivel in its existence and hide from the world. I spent days, weeks, months completely lost.Trying to understand what happened. Trying to find who I am and who I was, but the truth is, there is no possible way to get back to who you were. That kind of loss (or any kind of loss, really) enters your life and leaves you different than how it found you, but it's what you do with your new self that will define what's next for you. The pain and pressures of being a single mom was (and sometimes still is) a weight that I carried on my shoulders each day, but nonetheless, I carried it! Each day, I woke up, got dressed, grabbed the weight of the world‚ and went about my business. With that weight I cried, scream, and yelled my way through the minutes and hours, but I showed up each day and rebuilt, loved, laughed, and grew.
Through that growth I also realized that regardless of what we go through ‚ we shouldn't go through it alone. That growth granted me the ability to learn to ask for help from a village that surround and supported me even when anger blinded my way. This village consisted of my family and closest friends who supported my sorrows and my happiness. They are the ones that steady the ground I walk on and hold me up when weakness wants to push me down. Although they helped me built strength, it's the healing of my heart that has lighted the weight I once carried. They say that time heals all‚ and although three years has passed, I don't believe that time has done anything for me. What continues to help me heal and what guides my way when I am lost is the north star that shines where darkness once lingered.
In life, a north star comes in different shapes, sizes, and even forms, but regardless, it stands with you and lights the dark sky, showing you the way, and my north start does just that. My north star has come into my life in human form and at exactly at the time I needed it the most.That bright star of mine lightens my load with laughter, warms my heart with his spoken words, and pulls me into hope as he holds my hand. At the tender age of three, my son has been the north star that has guided my way. He has shown me that with love, hope will come and healing will follow. His unconditional love has taught me that I am enough and will always be enough as long as I continue showing up to life. And seeing him develop and thrive into the little person that he is has shown me that I am the kind of person that will make it because I'm the one to bet on. So what happens now? Am I healed? No, but are any of us healed? We all have different battles that break us and helps us find the inner strength we never knew we had in order to rebuild, only to break us down again later on. But our resilience is just one of the amazing qualities we have as human beings. We all might be a little broken on the inside, but as Leonard Cohen once said, there is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. All photography copyright Kylene Cleaver