January 29, 2019
By Rachel O. S. Edmund
This topic gives me pause because I have had to respond to the choice of both of my children’s fathers to be absent fathers to them. First I want to deal with the emotional aspect of this topic. I am simply speaking from experience here; I am by no means a psychologist and I suggest that if you are having trouble reconciling the choices made by your child’s father that you seek professional counselling where ever possible.
I never thought that I would have to raise my children on my own after all I was a married woman! I thought that when I had children they would have the life that I never had; they would have a father that doted on them and cared for them and spoiled them rotten! I hadn’t thought about being a single mother once because I thought I would have a fairytale life topped off with a happy ending!
I wasn’t as fortunate and I found myself divorced with a baby on my own. It was heartbreaking and earth shattering for me because a family in the traditional sense is all that I ever wanted and what I thought I needed. Having been a victim of domestic violence I sought solace outside of my marriage so I ended it to break free from the daily torment.
I didn’t realize the subsequent emotional roller coaster that I would endure after I left the marriage. There was no resource for me to draw strength from and books were a luxury at the time. Still I continued along with my limited education and life experience to make a better life for my daughter and me. Below are some of the things that I experienced and have found in looking at other women much of it to be quite similar. It is not an extensive list but I believe it to be a concise and accurate representation of what I have seen and experienced working with single mothers.
The Whirlwind of Emotions
If you were thrown into single motherhood without warning or due to some type of abuse, there are emotions that you will feel and have to resolve as a result of such. I remember walking away from my three-year marriage not even thinking about my life as a single mother rather thoughts of surviving were at the forefront of my mind. I was broken and I thought that I was in need of desperate repair which indeed I was.
I felt a loss that was incomparable to anything that I had ever felt. The loss that I felt at the time didn’t compare to the loss I felt when my very first boyfriend was murdered in his home. It was so much greater. I felt as though I lost time, I lost my marriage, I lost love, I lost a huge part of my soul and as though there was no recovering from the loss. I felt alone and unworthy as though I hadn’t tried enough to fix the broken marriage. I thought that no one would ever love me again. I am sure you can identify with some of those feelings. The only thing that I can think of that may be more painful than this is the loss of a child or parent.
2. Depression and Suicide
When I got out of the marriage I was very depressed as I had no job or self-esteem. I however had a solitary thought that I had to care for my four-month old daughter because she couldn’t take care of herself. I resolved that I would care for her no matter what came.
Depression however can render one to feel a depth of despair that is simply unimaginable. You sometimes feel to throw in the towel because everything overwhelms you. I actually have had suicidal thoughts at different phases of my life as a single mother and I am not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that fact. I even attempted suicide… BUT GOD!
Insecurity was another emotion that I felt which crippled me further. I couldn’t trust anyone with my heart or body as both had been violated through infidelity and abuse. I was very unsure of myself and thought that I would not be a good mother to my child because I allowed my ex-husband’s negative words to permeate my psyche and take root in my soul. There really was no way of getting around it. I was insecure in relationships as well and I couldn’t fully trust a man and to a great degree I still can’t.
Sometimes when these emotions are left unchecked we can develop a deep seated hatred for the abuser as well as innocent unsuspecting individuals unwittingly. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are alright but we know the truth is that we aren’t. I remember despising my ex for so long that I was consumed by it. I couldn’t bear to even see him. Hate is a very powerful and negative emotion and if the father of your children continues to ignore and neglect his responsibilities to his children, it only fuels the hate inside.
As adults we too can experience separation anxiety because of the fact that we would have operated as part of a whole and us being alone causes anxiety. I remember vividly the anxiety attacks that were so debilitating but I couldn’t take time off from work because I had to provide! I remember feeling my insides knotted and my jaw always clenching because I worried about every little thing. I wondered whether I was mothering right, if my food was healthy enough or if I would ever get a better salary to take care of my children properly.
Anger is another big emotion that can be experienced because of the separation/divorce. It is ok to be angry but it unhealthy to hold on to it. Anger has its place and purpose in the grand scheme of things. Looking back I see just how angry the choice of others over children made me become.
I would not lash out at others really but I could be cold, ruthless, uncaring and curt with others because I was hurting for my children on the inside and couldn’t explain what I felt and I also felt that no one cared enough to listen. I was angry at the world, at God, at myself for making such a poor choice of fathers but mostly angry at the choice that they made to be absent when they had a clear and unadulterated access to their children.
I had many fears because fear was the go to response for everything that I knew up till that point in my life. I was abused and was fearful of making mistakes as though my mistakes would literally bruise my skin or land me in a hospital for my stupidity! I feared the loneliness and being the sole breadwinner. I feared being a disciplinarian. I feared being not having a man because I felt safe and protected simply by his presence in the home. Fear crippled me sometimes because I didn’t want to make tough and necessary decisions because of what the fathers might say.
These are the seven things that I have identified as being the key emotions that I think need to be assessed whenever we face being a single mother or are thinking about taking that step. These are the things that I wished someone would have told me to look out for so that I would know what to expect. We will face many of these emotions throughout our journey as single mothers but I think that we can become masters over them if we know what to look for and how to deal with them.
In the next article I will deal with how to move forward from this stage and on to the next!
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