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Divorce and Women’s Success Series: Sonia Pressman Fuentes

This post is a part of Divorce Guru’s “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. For the next few months I will profile women who have achieved the bulk of their success after divorce to provide you with hope,motivation and inspiration that you too can succeed in life after divorce! These stories will also be featured on Divorce Guru on EnergyTalkRadio.com.

Yours in success!
-Kim Hess Divorce Guru

Victory from divorce by becoming an author and commissioner

Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Speaker, Author: Eat First–You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter

Shortly before the holiday season in 1978, my husband, Roberto, told me he didn’t think he loved me anymore. I was fifty years old, was living and working in Stamford, Connecticut, had been married for eight years, and had a six-year-old daughter named Zia. I was stunned. All my life I had looked forward to getting married and having a child. I had finally done it at the age of forty-two–and now this.

Once I got over the initial shock, I suggested we go for therapy.

“Roberto,” I said, you already left one wife and three children. Don’t do it again. We have a beautiful home, good jobs, enough money, and a child who’s gold and diamonds. Let’s go for help.”

Roberto asked for some time to think it over, thought it over for a few days, and said, “I guess I’d better move out.” Within two weeks, he was out of the house.

I didn’t know how I’d manage. In the past when we went out, Roberto would pick up the babysitter while I remained home with Zia and later he’d drive her home. How would I manage now?

For a short time, euphoria set in, and I danced around the house. I was free now–free of the tension in our home–free of wondering how he felt about me and our life together.

But then something else happened. The euphoria left me, and for weeks thereafter my taste buds didn‘t work. Everything I ate tasted like cardboard.

I was so busy trying to survive that I paid scant attention to Zia. Three months later, I learned that she hadn’t told any of her classmates that Roberto and I had split. She adored her father and couldn’t bring herself to tell her friends he had left us. None of her friends had divorced parents. Once I learned this, I took it upon myself to tell them.

And then, little by little, things started to get better. The babysitter problem that had so concerned me was solved easily. My neighbors across the street had a teen-age daughter, who was happy to baby sit for us.

I filed for a divorce, it took 1½ years, but it came through. I found I didn’t have any money problems. I had a good job as a senior attorney with a multinational corporation. In addition, I had bought our house shortly after our marriage with my own money and put it in my name.

At the end of 1981, I found an even better job and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. After four years in Cleveland, I returned to the Washington, DC, area, where I had lived for many years before moving to Stamford. I took a job in the General Counsel’s Office of a federal agency. Zia finished high school, went off to college, eventually got a Master’s in Business Administration, and joined the world of work.

On May 30, 1993, my sixty-fifth birthday, I retired.

So now not only had my married life ended, but so had my working life–or so I thought. Since 1957, I had been an attorney–for the federal government and multinational corporations. What was left for me now?

It took me 1½ years to get my act together after I retired, and therapy helped. And then I began writing my memoir, Eat First–You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter. It took 5½ years, after which I self-published it with Xlibris Corporation. I became one of their best-selling authors and last year they made a video about me to use in their marketing endeavors.

A friend suggested I contact a guy who ran a feminist web site. I did so, and he volunteered to create a web site for me. He maintains it to this day at www.erraticimpact.com

In order to market my book, I began speaking at book stores, colleges and universities, and organizations, and almost before I knew it I had embarked on new careers as a writer and public speaker. My work before retirement had turned me into one of this country’s experts on gender discrimination and the legal revolution in women’s rights that had taken place in this country. I built upon that expertise now.

I began going to Sarasota, Florida, in the winters: first, for a few weeks; then, for a longer period of time each year. In 1994, I bought a condo there, and in 2006, I moved there full-time.

Sarasota is a unique community: it’s a small town with big city amenities. It has a fabulous cultural and social life. (It has an art movie house, several theaters, a ballet, museums, a symphony, and several colleges.) There are endless opportunities for volunteering and every organization and club one could imagine.

I’m a commissioner on the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women and co-president of the Sarasota-Manatee chapter of Americans United for Church and State. I’m a member of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, the local NOW (National Organization for Women) chapter, and the local Brandeis University Women’s Committee. I usher at two theaters and belong to a theater guild. I’ve been featured in several articles in the local newspaper.

On February 15, 2010, two California filmmakers are flying to Sarasota to make a video of me for their series, The Wisdom of Elders Across America. They’re also interested in making a film about the founders of NOW, of whom I’m one, based on research I did in December 2009 and January 2010 about the founders.

My divorce and subsequent retirement forced me to seek new worlds to enter. As my mother used to say, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Many doors have opened for me. I do not believe they would have opened if the first one hadn’t closed.

©2010 by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

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About the Author:

Kim is the co-author of "From Ex to Next! An Empowered Woman's Guide to Dating After Breakup or Divorce." She is also the host of "Divorce Guru" radio show host, as well as the National Divorce columnist for the Examiner.com Kim lives in San Francisco, CA and is the proud mother of two very energetic, very wonderful boys.
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