What is going to get me through is not any relationship I have now or ever have, it’s me. Hopefully, in learning this, the next serious relationship I have will be the last I have.
With my kids, I’m just a mom doing her best sometimes showing her worst. With my family, I am just their responsible baby of the household who makes reckless decisions and impulsive choices like getting pregnant at 20 and not finishing college on time due to the lack of discipline I was never forced to have. With my friends, I am just the crazy one who has no filter and can make the sourest person laugh, but with him, I’m just a girl.
The girl who landed before she knew it after falling hard in love and getting knocked down, and when I got back up the only thing left was a heart that was overflowing with regret and sorrow for what once was. Right now, as I sit here on my stained and broken in sectional couch with my rum and coke in hand (not all moms drink wine) and the Investigation Discovery channel playing lightly in the background, I have officially been single for 21 months. That’s 608 days. January 28th, 2016 is the day I signed my lease on my brand-new apartment that was then so exciting but now so stressful.
Then, it was so new, and now it’s so trying. Then, every time I would walk through the front door it represented freedom, life getting ready to be lived where now it represents the stresses life has presented to me by choosing to live here. Alone. It represents bills, many hours of overtime at work instead of at home with my boys, looking at my son’s 2nd-grade picture on the kitchen table instead of the wall because I’m horrible at hanging things and haven’t got around to it yet because last time it was crooked and I made a hole in the wall. Loneliness.
Almost two years ago I was flying high on independence and wearing my freedom badge pridefully; now I am sitting here feeling defeated that things didn’t go as planned. Guilty that my priorities were crooked and still not straight. I am finally facing being alone. Before I moved out, I thought what I wanted more than anything was to be alone but it turns out since my whole previous relationship had made me feel alone, I jumped right into dating.
Despite the mistakes and heartache from my choices in my relationships, I have learned about myself as a woman and as a mother. These experiences are invaluable to me and I am grateful for each wrong choice Imad.
The first Relationship after Becoming a Single Mom
I haven’t been thinking about him, but when I do, I realize that I still love him and when I do I realize it still hurts and that I’m going to have to let myself feel it now or risk feeling it later. Now or later, a broken heart breaks the same. The cracks take the same shape, and you can feel the jagged edges stabbing you just the same. Should I tell him? Probably not. Am I going to? I’ve already decided I will.
I am going to have to stop telling myself all of the reasons why I shouldn’t love him and start facing the fact that I did, I do, and I always will. I’m going to have to let myself feel the pain, the agony, the hopeless wishing and the misery of it because that’s all I can do, just let myself feel it and admit that it’ exists. This was how I felt eight months ago when I ended my first real relationship after becoming a single mom.
I wrote the above in February 2017, eight months ago, it’s straight from my journal. What I thought was real love was not. In reality, the feeling of being looked at as someone other than a mother for the first time in so long had me attached to this person in a way I had never let myself before. It felt so good that it had me clinging to the idea that this is what love was and I endured a lot of treatment I would have never put up with.
This was particularly true with him because he made it clear from the beginning he was not particularly keen on getting serious with anyone with children from a previous relationship. But, I wasn’t particularly keen on getting serious at all after my separation, so I didn’t particularly care. Until I did. Until I fell into the trap that becomes a person representing happiness for you instead of actually being your own happiness.
He was selfish, and we knew after a few months it wouldn’t work because of my kids, whom I never involved, yet we still dated for almost a year. But what I’ve learned is he only felt like “the one” to me because I met him at a time I was most content in life. At a time when I felt like I was finding myself, I happened to find him too. A time when I had not felt loved in so long that to be loved stole an isolated piece of my heart I never knew was there and that no other man had ever seen.
To me, to continue letting him love me was ok because I was only hurting myself not my kids, not realizing hurting myself was hurting them. God, I love those two little boys so much, and I am so glad I made it through that relationship on this side instead of the other.
My Second Relationship After Becoming a Single Mom
Even though I made better choices with this one, I still started it off with a mistake: dating too soon after the first one. Being a woman hell-bent she was meant to be on her own and happier that way, I sure was living differently than how I saw myself in my head. Being a woman that never found it easy to deal with insecure people I started to think maybe buried underneath all that confidence I’d always had was the self-doubt I had always misunderstood in others.
This man had two little boys as well, and he was charming and sweet, but most noticeably he was selfless. We moved too fast at the beginning going from dating casually to a serious relationship within months which caused a lot of issues but that never devalued or depreciated any of the traits I adored about him.
He let me pick which restaurant we went out to eat and let me say “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” a million times with no eye rolls. He let me be the fickle person that I am changing my mind on a whim with no moans and groans. He sent me edible arrangements to work after an argument that I caused and bought me surprise Ed Sheeran Tickets because “even though he didn’t like Ed Sheeran he knew I did and just wanted to see my face light up.” He understood co-parenting, and he understood that my boys came first and always had to. He understood that I felt like a horrible person for the way I treated my kids Father which was cold and unloving.
When it felt like nobody else in the world did, he understood that the way I treated him wasn’t out of malice but effects from depression and anxiety. My ex-was genuinely a good person so that automatically meant I was a bad one for leaving, right? Wrong. I was made to feel this way a lot, and as I was learning this on my own, he helped to speed up this realization that I needed so badly to leave my marriage.
I was worth it. I never intended to my hurt my ex. I never wanted to be that way. But, nobody wants to acknowledge a monster’s presence in their own life, and I was no exception. I ended up hurting him. I still talked to the man I dated before him that represented a time of happiness and that deeply hurt him. He wasn’t perfect by no means and had just as many faults as I did, but I made a mistake, and there wasn’t any fixing it unless I was ready to be committed. Which I wasn’t.
Third Relationship after Becoming a Single Mom
I started writing less than a year ago, something I’ve dreamed of since a little girl. It began to go well, and I played stop and go with the writing until we broke up and I picked it back up again. It made me happy. It filled something in me that was missing. The writing was like being in a room with someone filled with other people and only you two understood each other. It was what I should have been doing but never thought I could.
In the second relationship, I was starting to move beyond personal writing and guest posting on popular websites and landing freelance gigs that were helping me pay my bills. But, once again, I was letting a relationship, a man; get in the way of my success. I was spending all my free time (which was 50%) with him and not meeting deadlines, not writing enough, and I was starting to feel myself sinking again. I felt the air come back in me as soon as I started my third relationship.
The third relationship is the best. It’s always the best. You have to fail more than once at anything in life to arrive at a purpose worth your efforts and all your pain. My third relationship was with myself. I feel like I’ve finally arrived at understanding the importance of being alone. Before you can please anyone else, you have to find delight in yourself. Before you can satisfy somebody else’s needs, you have to appease your own.
You have to indulge in yourself before you can take on the responsibility of being an important part of someone else’s happiness. That’s where I messed up. And kept messing up. I thought my fake smiles and meaningless words and the lies I told myself could get me through. But they didn’t. They only led me to hurt myself and others. What will get me through is my willingness to have an open mind about the lessons learned from the relationships I’ve had, and openness about my glaring faults.
What is going to get me through is not any relationship I have now or ever have, it’s me. Hopefully, in learning this, the next serious relationship I have will be the last, and if not, that’s OK too. I know I deserve and desire love just like everyone else. I know I can enjoy holding hands walking in Target and having someone’s lap to lay my head on at the end of the day. I know I want to be with someone who can still give me butterflies on Monday after a whole weekend spent together.
I just know now I have to stop rushing to find that before I find me. I’m well on my way, and my boys and I will all be better for it.