After Mr. Bee’s mom died, my first instinct was to leave the Philippines immediately. I didn’t feel safe and I had kids to protect. We got 24-hour a day armed guards. I researched moving to Korea because we still had many business affairs to settles in the Philippines, and the US is on the other side of the world. We had no choice but to continue working though, and the days soon turned into months. It seemed impossible to leave any time soon unless we walked away from everything we had worked so hard to build. Somehow life became somewhat normal again because Mr. Bee is the toughest person I know, and he wanted to stay and persevere.

Three months ago I moved to the island capital 5 hours away with the kids while Mr. Bee stayed behind. Part of the reason for the move was because there was absolutely nothing for the kids in our remote island town, and I was really starting to worry about their education. They read all day long and did workbooks, but hadn’t had consistent schooling for over a year. We were busy just trying to survive. Then a series of difficult work events earlier this year caused me to spiral into a severe depression with daily thoughts of suicide. At the time I quit my antidepressants cold turkey because they’re not available anywhere on the island, and I was too busy to travel to the country capital to get a refill. I told Mr. Bee I had to leave or I would die and he agreed.

Charlie, Olive, 4 baby kittens I was fostering and I moved into a small furnished apartment of a friend of a friend. Those first couple weeks were terrifying. I was in a new city, alone with the kids, and I felt like a target. I didn’t even want to buy anything because I was afraid we would be robbed.

But then things started to get better because I had a couple of friends who really helped me settle in. They invited me out frequently so I didn’t get lonely. They introduced me to a retired American psychiatrist who gave me an entire bottle of Lexapro for free because he had received it for free from the pharmaceutical company. We moved to a gated apartment complex where I felt much safer. I enrolled Olive in an awesome small private school that is just perfect for her. Through her school, I met a community of like-minded parents that I hadn’t had since moving to the Philippines. And there is just so much more for kids here, they love it. I never imagined I would solo parent, but we’ve gotten into a good routine now.

The trial is taking place in this city, so it’s good that I’ve been here to meet with our attorney and attend court hearings. We have to stay here to make sure justice is served. But I definitely want to leave the Philippines. Right now we’re trying to get our business to the point where it can run without us, then Mr. Bee can spend most of his time with us in the island capital. He comes to visit us and we go to visit him as often as we can, but of course it’s difficult to be apart.

It has been the craziest year of our lives. But I think we are starting to pick up the pieces.