January 6, 2017

Epilepsy, Adultery & Divorce—2 Years of Hell that Saved Me.

While everyone is saying how upside down their 2016 was, I’m over here wondering how I even survived the last two years. Truthfully, they have stripped me bare. But, as I begin 2017, I realize that this painful process has left me more true to myself than I have ever been.

When I think back on 2015 and 2016, these are some words that come to mind: painful, hard, tearful days and sleepless nights. I lost massive amounts of weight, lived in fear and almost lost my eight-year-old daughter four times to epilepsy. She went through repeated seizures and induced comas.

As a family, after 21 years of marriage, we experienced adultery and divorce. Followed by moving out, uprooting our children, attorneys, sadness and fatigue.

If I could add up the hours spent in tears, I’d say it would be over a thousand.

I look into the mirror and barely recognize the 38-year-old woman standing before me. Yet, she is more me—stronger, more empowered, more alive and more resilient than the image I have tried to project over the course of my life.
A life American culture told me I was supposed to have.

Only a few years ago, I had three houses, a Rolex and a top-of-the line Mercedes. I vacationed in Europe, Aspen, Costa Rica, The Bahamas and other exotic locales. I had a beautiful family and my daughter’s epilepsy was controlled by diet.
But none of that was enough. I wanted more. Why? Because I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough for me and I convinced myself I wasn’t enough for anyone else.

I was a realist. A materialist. I didn’t believe in fairy tales or magic. I used to get so stressed out during the holidays. I got worked up finding the perfect Christmas card, perfect outfits for the girls, perfect decorations and finding perfect Christmas presents. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Christmas was just a giant stress ball of anxiety.

Now, I don’t have any of that. Financially, I am in ruins. I’m in the throes of a divorce and my daughter’s epilepsy is no longer controlled. She is on three types of medication.

But I am in the happiest place I have ever been in.

I was forced to drop many masks and pretenses that I had about myself. The blame and anger I had at the world dissipated, as I realized it only mirrored my inner world.

I have finally learned that surrender is everything. It took me a long time to learn this. I no longer follow the status quo. I have learned that the only currency my heart runs on is love.

This Christmas, we had no Christmas decorations apart from a tiny decorated tree, a wonderful gift from a friend. I had no money to buy presents and there were no Christmas cards this year.

And it turned out to be one of the best Christmas’s ever.

Last week, a friend and I stood downtown beside a giant Christmas tree. We watched families take pictures, couples walk hand in hand and kids run around, filled with excitement of the season. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. We listened to Christmas music on his phone and held one another as if the world was going to end. We lived in that moment and experienced all the love and magic it had to offer.

The truth is, even with the heart-breaking divorce and my daughter’s ongoing battle with epilepsy, I choose my life. I realize, now, that if someone were to wave a magic wand and take away all the darkness of the past two years, I wouldn’t be standing in the light, as I am now.

December 26th is the anniversary date of my daughter’s first seizure, 40 minutes of complete hell as we were flown to the closest children’s hospital. Every December 26th I go into a day of mourning the life I wanted for my family and my little girl.

Even though it was the first Christmas of my life in which I didn’t open a gift, my gift this year was I moved through December 26th without experiencing the pain that I had previously associated with that day.

Every day is a clean slate full of new possibilities.

I wouldn’t trade those days and nights of crying on the floor, for anything—because of what I’ve found on the other side. A friend once told me that every time someone goes through a good sob, another layer is peeled back within themselves. I have to agree.

Love, happiness, family, friendship, hope, magic, beauty, peace, joy, fun, laughter, dreams, passion, strength and faith. These are just a few of the words that make up every moment of my new life. My real life.

Once my life was cleared of clutter, it was easy to see how love wins. Fairy tales exist. Magic is real.




Author: Dawn Matoy

Image: YouTube video still

Editor: Travis May and Lieselle Davidson 


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