**Trigger warning – emotional abuse and loss**
When I was a teenager, I was a know-it-all. I clearly knew how life was supposed to be lived and judged people based on my super narrow view of the world. From abortion to marriage and divorce, I had opinions on it all. I had my life planned out – I’d meet the man of my dreams by 23, get married and have my first child by 30. We’d have a nice house that we owned and live in it until the kids moved out. We’d have super fun family vacations and a cabin by the water somewhere like my grandparents did when I was little. I’d never get divorced as marriage is forever.
In essence, I wanted everything I didn’t have growing up.
So my actual life ended up looking like this from the outside:
- Met my future husband at 23
- Got married at 27
- Bought a house at 29
- Had my first child at 32
- Had a second child at 36
From the inside:
- At 23, I met my future husband and within days he moved into my basement suite because he loved me so much.
- At 24, I noticed he wasn’t talking to me kindly, but it must be because he’s tired and stressed.
- At 27, I got engaged because this is what you do after you live together for a while, right?
- At 27, I got married, He didn’t want a long engagement.
- At 27, I got a corporate job because I wanted to have kids at some point and my husband was spending more than he brought in.
- At 29, I start seeing how my husband handles stress and decide it’s better to keep things from him and silence myself.
- On my 30th birthday, he put me down in front of our friends. It’s not just in private anymore.
- From 30 to 31, I went through infertility. My husband wouldn’t get checked because “he didn’t need to” so all of the guilt was on me.
- At 31, I finally got pregnant and knew this will make everything better.
- At 32, I had a baby. This did not make things better. My husband decided that looking after the baby was my job so I went through sleepless nights and daily routines on my own.
- At 34, I had a miscarriage. One of the most horrible, terrible, and painful times in my life. Husband told me the baby was gone and to forget about it. He didn’t want to hear about it.
- At 35, I asked my husband to leave the house. I finally spoke the words “I’m being abused” out loud. I asked him to leave and days later was given an ultimatum to take him back or divorce him because he couldn’t stay where he was. He convinced me that he had changed and got help. I wanted to believe him and so I took him back.
- At 35, I got pregnant again. My marriage got worse and worse but we were bringing another baby into the world, so I had to push down my feelings and survive.
- At 36, I had another baby. Once again, this fixed nothing and made the abusive episodes longer and longer until I was always walking on eggshells and I would either lash out to make the silent anger end or he would. There were no more honeymoon periods. No compassion or kindness between us.
- At 37, I became what I had never wanted to be – a single mom. I never thought I would be put into this position and according to Teenage Judgemental Asshole Jen, I’d become my own worst nightmare.
Everything that people say to me about being a single mom (yes, these are real quotes from people I know):
- “I could never be a single mom. I could never be alone like that.”
- “I would rather not have this baby than be by myself.”
- “I can’t do this by myself and I don’t want to.”
- “No one really has a happy marriage, at least I’m not alone,”
- “I wouldn’t be able to live like you do.”
- “I’m not as brave as you. I’ll leave when the kids are older.”
- “I don’t want to struggle with money. I don’t want to stay married but at least he still looks after me financially.”
- “I don’t have a support system like you.”
- “Leaving would be too hard. I don’t think I’m meant to be happy.”
- “I can’t break up my family.”
Separation, divorce, legal crap, and becoming a single parent was hard on every part of me – emotionally, mentally, energetically, and physically. It broke me in so many ways and forced me to take a deep look at myself and my own patterns. It forced me to know the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. It challenged my views of what I could do and who I saw myself. It forced me out of my shell and kicked me into a world where the term “single mom” has such a negative connotation. It crushed me so many times over and left me ugly crying on my kitchen floor. It shoved me into second guessing every decision in my life and questioning everyone’s intentions. It destroyed everything I knew about myself.
But, after being broken, forced, challenged, kicked, crushed, shoved, and destroyed, I’m still here.
- At 37, After 13 years of abuse and pain, I decided enough was enough, stood up for myself and my kids and ended my marriage.
- At 38, I found counsellors, therapists, and group therapy to help me break the cycle of abuse for myself and my daughters.
- At 39, I realized I was finally free to make my own decisions and become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
- At 39, I started my own business so I could spend more time with my daughters and build an empire.
- At 40, I moved to Vancouver Island to follow my dreams of being in a place with mountains and ocean.
- At 40, I bought a house of my very own and it’s purple!
- At 40, I really started loving myself and fully stand in my power knowing I did all of this by myself and on my own terms.
- At 40, I realized that my life is better that I ever could have dreamed.
My little family – we laugh, smile, joke, hug, kiss, sing, dance, play barefoot, go splashing, make tea, make friends, give back to our community, eat tacos, and love fiercely. We have a beautiful life together.
My worst nightmare has become the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I had stayed and I don’t want to.
Bravely Smiling Forward