I’ve spent a lot of time recently with women who are going through divorces and separations, and I’ve been there myself.
What strikes me about all of us, is the way we are torn between doing what we know to be best for ourselves, and balancing that with what is best for the children. One of my biggest reasons for staying married as long as I did was because as a child of divorced parents, I had vowed not to be in the same situation myself because of how much I had missed my dad and how hard it was on all of us. So it felt like I had to choose between my happiness or my children’s, and that felt so selfish. Who was I to put my needs above the children’s needs to be in the same house as both parents? I made all sorts of assumptions; that divorce would do them harm, that they would lose love, that they would become insecure and alone.
Now, a couple of years down the line, I can see that all of those assumptions were untrue and that the act of divorce or separation does not in itself cause harm, nor does staying together prevent harm. It all comes down to how we do things. As I sat one day on the back step sobbing to Teresa, telling her all the things I imagined would go wrong, she stopped me and asked “So how would you like it to be?”. What a great question. I started to paint a picture, “my children would have more loving people in their lives, they would still have 2 loving parents, in leaving a marriage which didn’t work, I can open up the chance to create a more positive model of a happy relationship..”. And it has all come true.
There were days of fear, loneliness and despair but behind all of that was hope, hope that something new could be created, and it was.
I couldn’t have done it without other people. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and in my case, that has been true. I had to work and I have no close family who can help nearby. So the village stepped in. We share tea with other families; we share day trips, pre-school care, after school care, Saturday morning swims and Sunday afternoon bonfires. No money exchanges hands, just time and love.
Before four people were trapped inside an unhealthy, unhappy marriage. Now the children and I have a whole network of people in our lives that enrich us, support us and laugh with us.
- What are your assumptions about divorce and separation?
- How can you challenge them?
- How would you like it to be?
- What can you do to support single parents and families in your area?
- How can you find support?