Finding myself – it’s such a nit wit term really but I guess what I define that as is finding some comfort in my own skin, learning to live with severe anxiety, working out what I do and don’t like, deciding what sort of mother I want to be and finding my calm places.
Anyone who has been through a divorce will probably tell you they more than likely lost their footing along the way, anyone who has been through a nasty divorce will tell you that it’s soul sucking.
As I navigated being separated I found myself so overwhelmed at the prospect of raising my two sons on my own. At the final crossroads my second son was only 7 months old and my eldest just turned two. I was terrified to raise them on my own and couldn’t see through the storm that awaited me. I also nursed a broken heart but I had been prepared for this moment for sometime emotionally. I guess what I wasn’t prepared for was how I rebuilt my own identity, my identity was built around my marriage. My opinions formed on the basis of the type of marriage I was in. My view of where I was headed and my role in that based on my marriage.
So for some reason, this major life changing event happened to fall on 1 July 2016. Something about the start of a new financial year or month perhaps…..
So as my entire world fell apart before me and my ex husband moved on very quickly, I decided first and foremost I would allow myself to grieve. I would allow myself to do that free from judgement, free from asking why, free from trying to stop it. I threw myself into my kids, I threw myself into my social media to test the waters on what I did and didn’t like, threw myself into trying new makeup, new clothing styles, new adventures. I drank a lot of coffee, my swearing even reached a whole new level with my mum and friends as I would share the anger in my grief with them. Sought intensive counselling to process the breakdown of my family and how I should raise my sons, what approaches to mothering suit my boys and all the while trying to find some self confidence and self esteem again. It was totally shattered when my marriage ended. In my eyes, I had no worth and I would regularly cry myself to sleep believing this to my core. Most of all – I made plenty of mistakes, I was finding myself as a 28 year old woman with two sons, something I didn’t get the opportunity to do as an 18 year old or in my 20s.
I would have painful panic attacks on the regular, sometimes just making sure the boys were cared for and then flopping onto my couch with sheer exhaustion. I honestly believed that no one would ever want me with two young sons – what did I have to offer? That is all I could see myself as.
Day by day, my family and closest friends rallied – they let me fail, they let me have moments to shine, they gave me food, gave me wine, tried to make me laugh and very much encouraged me to date.
Jesus, dating…. wasn’t that an interesting exercise but what I discovered most in this process is the kindness of men. Not boys, men. I had very clear lines for myself that my world with my little men wasn’t going to collide with my adult private life. Something I am proud of myself for maintaining until I met someone I felt something real for and trusted. But what I came to find was that men wanted to know me, were interested in me despite coming with an already made family. They were respectful and in certain circumstances spoilt me rotten and made me feel human again.
But at the end of the day, this wasn’t going to maintain me. I needed to like myself, I needed to wake up every day sure of who I was. I needed to learn to sit in my loneliness so I knew I could walk the path of a single mother. I would dress the boys and myself up Saturday mornings and at, a minimum I would head for coffee. I would feel such sadness that sometimes tears would form in my eyes at seeing other families together. I was broken hearted that mine was destroyed. But what it taught me was that I could – I found contentment in my home once my sons went to sleep. I was safe, I was secure and most of all my boys were. I found peace in lighting candles, cooking myself nice food and watching whatever chick trash I wanted to!!
Another turning point was further in the year. So at a last minute opportunity at Christmas in 2016, my family rallied and when my sons had a week away with their father they forced me to go and book a trip. I was flat chat broke this year and Christmas was such a tough time financially for me and the boys so my mummy covered me so I could have some time away. I ran away for 5 nights to Bali on my own. I had never been before so it was somewhere new and I spent 5 days walking, sleeping, sweating, relaxing and taking in another culture. I found my feet, reminded myself I could AND would have a life outside being a mother and my divorce and remembered part of my soul needs to be fueled by seeing new places and learning new things. It was the shock my system needed – from there I forged into 2017 determined to create a home and life for myself and my sons that I could be proud of.
I also found, I actually liked the person I was deep down inside. I went back to focusing on others instead of my own situation as much (when that was possible), returned to work, returned to study, returned to getting away and laughing with my friends, I pulled my circle back in a lot closer and removed friendships that were unhealthy. Stood up for myself when I needed to or when I felt bullied and everyday kept fighting for my little boys. I started to read more about health and fitness, took opportunities to train and travel with work, spoke publicly in depth about violence against women and the impact this has on their lives.
Through this process, I met my new partner and not once did he stifle me. He doesn’t smother me, he doesn’t tell me what I should and shouldn’t do and let’s me shine as a woman in all the ways I should.
But I may just touch on that a little more in my next blog when I talk about the toughest parts of 2017.