I was married to someone I was in business with — we had a design-and-build business and had a showroom in the Flat Iron district (in New York City). It was a mentally abusive relationship but I didn’t realize it at the time. I came from the Midwest and didn’t know this was a thing.

It turned out he was very threatened by me, especially when we were doing business together. The way I frame this marriage now is that he was kind-of my Zen master. We worked together, we had two kids together and so, being the loyal person I am, it was really hard for me to let it go.

My world fell apart after that. After the divorce, I ended up going from having millions of dollars between myself and my husband to being a million dollars in debt. I lost my showroom, my kids ended up leaving for nine months to go live with my ex-husband and I lost my boyfriend at the time, so my world imploded enough for me to look at my stuff and really examine what I’d done wrong.

The implosion of my marriage was so difficult and so hard on me, that it forced me out of my shell in order to have a really good life. Sometimes we unconsciously set things up that way, and if we are willing to look at everything that is horrible as a gift, it changes the way life goes. It really pushed me to be more out there and express things, particularly when it comes to architecture and healing and how it affects how you feel. I wouldn’t have been pushed if I didn’t create some catastrophic event.

It’s funny how when things implode, it sparks you to move. I really do believe that whole notion of entrepreneurs — the bigger they fail, the bigger they succeed — particularly if it’s in a creative field.

I’m a really nice person, but I had trusted too much. I looked at how I set myself up as a victim — powerless — and how I got that power back without being a bulldozer. The point is not to go from passive feminine to uber-masculine, but to have a balance within ourselves. 

Carolyn DiCarlo‘s integrated approach to architecture and interiors drums to the beat of all five senses. The magic of sacred architecture, although long forgotten in our rationalist world, seeks to remind us that we are more than just what we do, but instead, what we feel.