Emptying the Nest

Back when I was in law school, I found myself in search of a new apartment. This was long before Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms existed where people could connect over shared interests and needs, so my search began by scouring local classified ads in newspapers. I believe it was in the Boston Phoenix where I saw the listing for a shared rental in a Boston South End brownstone.  I interviewed with the three women living there, and soon afterward, moved in.

Two of those three women I long ago lost touch with, but Morgan and I became lifelong friends.  Last week, along with many other of her friends, family, and followers, I attended her book launch and listened to her read from “Emptying The Nest”, her newly published book. 

Although I often talk about developing the Consilium® Process and co-founding the Consilium Institute with my great friend Judge Julie Field (ret.), I don’t often share why I was drawn to the practice of family law. Like many people, it wasn’t just one thing but the convergence of several that resulted in my journey.

When I took my family law course in law school, I had just ended a five-year relationship with my college boyfriend; the pain of divorce was relatable, and it resonated. As prior to law school I had received my Masters degree in education, having concentrated in counseling and consulting psychology, I also had that lens to peer through when thinking and talking about family changes, and I was living with Morgan, whose parents had divorced when she was ten years old.  Many nights over a glass of wine, we had conversations about her childhood experiences; during that time, she was working through her relationship with her father which ultimately improved when she had children of her own.

  • Some of the laws and their rationale made sense to me, but they seemed devoid of emotion and hollow in terms of healthy resolutions.
  • It was my first inkling that there had to be a better way to and through divorce.  

In Emptying the Nest, Morgan talks candidly about the impact her parents’ acrimonious divorce had on her. How multiple moves and her own lack of agency during those times created or exacerbated mental health issues of anxiety and depression. She talks about adulthood loss in the form of breeding puppies only to then send them off to new homes with other loving families.  And most poignantly, she shares how her daughters growing up and “leaving the nest” destabilized her identity as a mother, a role she had excelled at and embraced. Ultimately, she talks about how she came to redefine and deepen her relationship with herself: as a professor, a writer, a wife, a quilter, a baker (she makes the most awesome chocolate chip cookies!), and a dog lover.

  • Morgan’s book shines a light on change, identity, and mental health.
  • It gives voice to a child’s pain when divorcing, distracted, and depleted parents don’t have the emotional bandwidth to attend to their children’s needs.

Morgan’s book is a brave contribution, and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand and support people, particularly people going through divorce. I am so very proud of her. 

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