“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being…
This post is for any parents out there feeling alone or hopeless or lost. I want to let you know that you’re stronger than you think and you’re not alone. I’ve been where you are and it does get better. You will find happiness. You will be amazed by your own strength of spirit and ability to heal. Your life will not only move ahead but thrive.
I will never ever forget what it felt like to be a brand new parent and newly separated. I will never forget that first night, after telling my ex to leave – putting my baby to bed in his crib and then sitting up all night standing watch, looking out the window, completely and utterly terrified of what would happen next. I will never forget feeling, with such certainty, that it would never, ever get better or easier for me and that, at age 30, I had completely destroyed my chances of having the life I had dreamed of – for myself and my son. I’ll never forget the heart-wrenching sadness and agonizing guilt I felt for what all of this would forever mean for my son. I’ll never forget the guilt I felt for what those who loved me went through, as a result. I’ll never forget the shame I felt for being such a failure. I’ll never forget the impossibility of that first year – at times being filled with such fear that I’d gather up my fast-asleep toddler out of bed in the middle of the night to drive the both of us up to my parents’ house because I just couldn’t do it alone that night, or be any stronger or braver.
I have always been a deeply emotional person and – I think – someone with pretty strong faith and spirit. At the time that my marriage ended, I had never felt (and haven’t since) more utterly hopeless – not because of the loss of that person from my life, but because of the loss of what I thought was my path. I literally could not see a light at the end of the tunnel. I loved my son with all of my heart and he brought me more joy than I even thought humanly possible (still does). Anyone who’s a parent knows that a child brings enough joy and wonder and purpose to your world to make your life beautifully and completely full. The hopelessness I felt had to do with me – who I was personally and what my future would hold. The heartbreak I felt had to do with what Mason would never have – despite having a Mom who, come hell or high water, was not going to let him grow up feeling alone, abandoned, short-changed or less-than. I never set out to end my marriage, be divorced, be a single parent. I don’t broadcast the fact that I’m a single parent, nor do I lament the woes of such a life. I would never, ever encourage someone to get divorced – in fact I would advise that relationships deserve serious commitment and hard work. I did not come to these decisions easily. I did come to them carefully and with certainty that doing so would make for a better life for my son – first and foremost. I have never once wavered in my decision – I have never questioned whether it was the right thing to do. I have never wondered whether it could have worked out differently. But I have felt the overwhelming weight – sadness, guilt, anxiety, fear, loss – of each of my decisions.
I’ve often wished I could start some sort of support system for Mom’s or Dad’s that are new parents and those that are newly single. Mostly this is because of the incredible amount of gratitude I have for those who made me feel not quite so alone – those who invited me in, looked me in the eye, included me, and pushed through the walls of hurt and guilt and shame that I built up around me. If you are a parent who at any point stumbles across this post please, please know that you’re not alone. It gets better. One slow and purposeful step at a time. Before you know it you’ll find yourself in a place in your life where you never imagined you’d be – in a good way. And if, along the way you need affirmation, reach out! Don’t be afraid to be human and imperfect. Don’t be afraid to be someone whose life is a work in progress. When you go through such intense feelings of loss, sadness, hurt, pain – you’ll eventually find yourself on the other side, capable of such incredible gratitude, happiness, purity, love. All is not lost. There’s more to your life than you ever imagined.