by Amanda Rowe
Divorce feels like the end. Your life as you knew it is over. You have no idea what the future holds, only that the familiar is gone. It’s scary, feeling adrift, and alone. The person you thought was on your team now sits on the opposing side, and you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing everything, all of the time, by yourself.
All the while as you’re grappling with this crisis of identity – who am I if I’m not a wife? – you have tiny people depending on you. You’re not the only one suffering; these tiny people that you love more than yourself have broken hearts, too, and they are looking to you for cues. They need to see you being strong and brave and carrying on. You must be who they need you to be, although you have no idea who you are.
Emerging from divorce
When you first emerge from divorce, you are traumatized. You’ve been thrust into unfamiliar surroundings, and you feel vulnerable. You are not sure how you will survive. The good news about this new life is that it is yours alone, and you can live it anyway you choose. The good news about losing the home you’ve known is that you get to make a new home, any kind that you want. The good news about not knowing who you are is it presents an opportunity to become who you’d like to be.
There are moments of self-doubt and panic as you begin to navigate single parenthood. When the bills are piling up, time is running short, and you’ve already worked, packed lunches, checked homework, made an orthodontist appointment, picked up from soccer practice and dropped off at cheer and you realize that there is more to do before you can collapse into bed. You will look around, you will be overwhelmed, and you will think, maybe I can’t do this. And then your child will come alongside you and look into your eyes, and you will know that you can do this because they depend on you, and the only thing that you cannot do is let them down. Today is hard, but someday it will be easier.
Someday is coming
Someday, you will stop grieving what you lost, and you will appreciate what remains.
Someday, you will be glad that your relationship with another person no longer defines you, and you will define yourself.
Someday, you will see that this pain has made you stronger.
Someday, you will be proud of yourself for making it on your own.
Someday, you will bring home the bacon, cook it, and clean it up yourself. You will take out the recyclables, repair the leaky faucet, kill the spiders, assemble the furniture and do things that you never thought that you could do.
Someday you will discover strength and talents that you didn’t know you had.
Being single can be challenging and lonely. But it is also exhilarating when you realize that the life that was blown to bits has been replaced by something new that you built yourself from nothing. You built it with your hands, your tears, and every ounce of grit that you didn’t know you had until you so desperately needed it. And someday you will show your precious children that dreams that die do not have to be the end; they can be the beginning of something better–the fertilizer that nourishes the new life that will grow in place of the thing that is dead and gone.
You are not alone
If you are a single parent who feels adrift or overwhelmed, you can find a community. Even beyond your everyday surroundings, there are people and resources to help. There are options available in person; you can search by state on the Psychology Today website. If that feels intimidating, start with an online support group. Tell the truth and accept help. Don’t be ashamed of your fear, sadness, or exhaustion. We all have moments when we feel as if we are not equal to the tasks before us. But you don’t have to be anything other than the best version of yourself, you don’t have to do anything more than the best that you can, and you don’t have to do any of it alone. Unmarried and alone are not the same thing.
Many fantastic communities like Whole Mamas offer support, useful information, and opportunities to make connections with people who understand where you are because they have been there themselves. Or perhaps you are the one who can lend a hand to someone who is going through what you have overcome. If you’re struggling, you can ask for help. And if you’re a survivor, you can offer it. When we help each other, none of us is alone.
Every time you feel like you can’t do this, and you do it anyway, you are choosing strength. So get up every day and choose strength, because your tiny people need you, and there is nothing more important–or inspiring–than that!
Amanda Rowe lives in New Jersey with her two beloved children. She is a freelance writer, an academic administrator, an amateur chef, a travel enthusiast, and a book hoarder. Amanda loves anything with peanut butter as an ingredient and wants to make the world a better place. Visit her at www.amandarowewrites.com.