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When I couldn’t feed my family

Eleven years ago, despite two advanced degrees and editing experience, I was scraping by, waiting tables a couple of nights a week, picking up the odd freelance assignment. I was in the midst of a divorce in which I had not asked for alimony or child support, and I had shared custody of my two daughters, who were 11 and 5 at the time. I held on to what little money was available for the days when I had the girls, and during one particular three-day stretch I had just under $6 to feed the three of us, so I didn't eat.

I felt as if I were doing penance. The divorce had been my idea, and I carried within me the notion that because I had broken up my daughters' happy home, I deserved whatever suffering came my way. But starving myself also made me feel I was the noble mother, the self-sacrificing she-wolf who would take care of her children before I took care of myself.

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