Susan Wisely has been a REALTOR® since the year 2000 and her career volume is over $180 million. She is passionate about what she does and loves helping her clients. But it is what she has overcome outside of the real estate field that is truly awe-inspiring. This is her story in her own words.

I was raised in a military family, moving about every two years of my life. It was not until we moved to McLean, where I created life-long friends at Langley High and felt like this was home.

When I was a senior in college, I got the horrible call from my father letting me know my mom had passed away. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I ever said out loud, “It was a suicide.” This loss of my mom rocked me to my core as I loved her so much. After graduating while I was working in human resources, I put myself through graduate school at night/weekends to get my master’s in education and became a teacher.

Soon after, I married my high school sweetheart and was given the biggest gift of all, becoming a mother to three amazing children. My REALTOR® mother-in-law had a surgical procedure and asked me to help her. I received my real estate license, did my first transaction and immediately became hooked! I feel extremely grateful for all of her assistance in getting me started.

I continued to be a top producer in Real Estate, but was quietly struggling for years in my private life with an unhealthy marriage, which included a great deal of verbal abuse. I quietly watched my husband’s debilitating depression become worse and worse. I suffered through this difficult time privately until a pivotal moment when one of my children spoke up during an awful situation and it became clear that this was not the example I wanted for our children and I didn’t want them to grow up in this environment.

It was a difficult separation and divorce. I will never forget that cold day in January 2012. Our children went over with their babysitter for what was supposed to be their weekend visit, only to walk into their father’s home to find him after he had taken his life. Ben, Ryan and Maddie were only 12, 10 and barely 6 years old. It was horrific.

Immediately after, I wanted to protect my children and provide all the therapy they needed to deal with their loss and not to push it under the rug like what happened to me when my mom died. I needed to be their advocate and was determined to fight for them. It became my passion and mission to help my children overcome this tragic event, not by forgetting their father, but by taking something so awful and pushing through it in a healthy, positive way and to use the experience to help others. As many of my friends were shuttling their kids to sports practices, I was shuttling to multiple therapy appointments every week.

My daughter, the youngest, struggled so much; her little body couldn’t handle all the trauma stored inside and she began to shut down. We hit a very dangerous point two years ago where we had to make a brutal decision to place her in a therapeutic boarding school to literally save her life. We felt we had to look at the situation from 30,000 feet in order to provide her the tools she needed to move forward in her life.

Ben is now a junior Honor student at VA Tech with a double major in neuroscience and psychology and has a passion for sports. Ryan is also an honor student in his senior year of high school and loves technology. Maddie is graduating this December from her therapeutic school and is doing so much better. We still have a long way to go, but we are confident she will have a healthy life ahead. She is a very smart little girl and is a fighter.

Through all of this adversity, my real estate career has been my escape and my blessing and has not only provided my income but also the distraction from the pain I have endured. I absolutely love what I do and am very driven to be successful and passionate about always doing what is best for my clients.

Three years ago, I remarried to the love of my life, who is truly is my rock, and feel incredibly blessed to have him in my life. He has also been an incredible stepfather and role model for my children.

I continue to have a strong interest in suicide prevention, PTSD and childhood trauma and continue to share my experiences and story. Without proper help, trauma can cause havoc on your body and your brain. I hope to see the stigma associated with mental illness decrease in the years to come and people to talk more freely about this subject. By telling my story, I hope somehow, I can continue to help others. Finding the right trauma specialists, therapists and programs out there to provide the help that may be needed is key. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Susan can be reached at [email protected] She is a REALTOR®, Luxury Specialist with BHHS PenFed Realty, Tysons/McLean.