Divorce. Infidelity. Loss. Heartache. Single parenthood. I’ve written about it before, with an alarming response. In fact you can find my last post all over the internet now, it is on single parenthood forums and websites and women’s anthologies like BlogHer.The reactions have been interesting. There was a lot of support and a few people who got really angry at me in internet land. I’m OK with that. Totally. Those who judged said I was being negative and that I needed to stop dwelling in the shit and move toward the light, their words were perhaps not as kind… Sometimes we need to really take a good hard look at the shit. Not dwell in it. Not be victimised by it. But to be honest with it. I’m a big believer in positive thinking and postive projection and all that… but what I’m a bigger believer in? The truth. The cold, hard, unforgiving truth… with all it’s laughter and all it’s tears.
That’s life. You know? The good, the bad and the ugly.
In Australia almost 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s quite an alarming statistic. So it’s not surprising that talking about the realities of single parenting and the emotions attached to the end of a marriage is something that people are craving. It’s not surprising it is such an emotionally charged topic. There is such incredible stigma attached to it and it’s something that I am going to work hard to bring to light. So that we can all look upon single parents a little differently. So that we, as single parents, can look in the mirror and not see our own societies judgements. But see ourselves, not just the parent or the jaded lover or the heartbroken, but ourselves, the person. Sounds simple? Sure. But I can tell you from experience, it is not.
Letting go of the fantasy is the only place to start.
I have a fantasy. Don’t you? The fantasy of the easier life. The life that I would have had if my husband hadn’t had an affair. The fantasy of the life that we could have had, the three of us. The fantasy of the better life. The fantasy that the man I love made promises that he kept. The fantasy of how it could have been… but it never was. The fantasy that the man will return, bringing with him the love and support and joy that I always wished for, for both of us.
I had a chat with a friend amongst toys and snacks and tantruming children. A friend who did all but shake a bit of reality into me. She said to me, you need to stop wishing for the life you think you would have had and live the life you have, today (or something to that effect, I was a bit blurry). And I understand now that I have two choices. I can either live my life lusting after my fantasy. Or I can rise up from the ashes and claim my reality. The reality that is hard and exhausting and heartbreaking but it is mine. It is MINE, and it is the truth. It is our truth. It is Bo’s truth and she deserves all the opportunity I can offer her. Our reality. It is not just a single mother (or father) that needs this reality check sometimes. It’s all of us. We all fantasize about the other life, the other side. Wondering what if, what if…. what if… what if things were different? What if I’d made different choices? What if I hadn’t made that mistake? What if I had said yes, instead of no. What if I hadn’t been so cocky? What if I’d had more guts? What if I’d chased that dream? What if… what if… what if…
I am choosing to face my reality. No matter how hard (and boy, is it hard) that is to do. To look in the mirror and to stop judging. But to stand on my own two feet and to learn when to ask for help. To learn to accept the things I cannot change (it’s starting to sound all a bit AA isn’t it?). I’m going to talk about things in the next few weeks that aren’t widely discussed, things that people shy away from, realities that are shrouded in judgement and cloaked in fear. Things that are realities to so many people in our lives, but we might not even know it. State housing. Food banks. Child Care. Custody. Building up from nothing. Starting over. Accepting poverty and working with it, not against it. Working towards a future that you own, not one that is made for you. Living wholeheartedly and what that truly means. Accepting help. Asking for help and learning to accept that I need it. Letting go of fantasy and accepting reality in all its beauty and all its blemishes.
We are taught that we can do it all. That we must do it all, alone, to be successful. But the reality I have found is that I can’t. I can’t do it all without help. And I need to accept that. Asking for help is not a failure. Being vulnerable is not being weak. Life can be blissful even when you have a great hill to climb. You can stand back and look at the shit storm around you and say, this is not at all what I wanted. But lemons and lemonade and all that. Not everything shit has to be shit forever…
We all have two choices. All of us. Live in regret and lust for something that could have been but never truly was. We can sit around waiting for someone else to save us or we can fully embrace our own today. Today.
What do you choose?
*This post was sponsored by Watts McCray Lawyers – family law specialists*