When should you call it quits? 🖤
Singleton Shaming 😳
Writing about dating in 2018 and the fact that today’s generation is a sea of commitment phobes, got me thinking about how people are quick to say (myself included) that in this day and age, we don’t value relationships, family life and the sanctity of marriage like the generations before us. I have just written a whole entry about the fact that we quickly leave or sometimes stop ourselves getting into relationships these days because we are too caught up with thinking there is better out there for us.
Then I realised, this idea actually conjures up MIXED emotions for me. Whilst I agree with all of that to some extent, I can’t help but wonder, are we now just living in a generation where women (and men) are simply getting better at saying NO to putting up with bullshit? Is it such a bad thing to have high standards? Why should I settle for less and stay in a relationship that is not serving me?
Sentiments such as anger, regret and embarrassment consume me regularly because I have been before now, embarrassed to say that I am a Single Mam. I guess some part of me is ashamed about the fact that my family didn’t stay as a family and I feel like people are judging me.
Single Mam Stigma 😫
There is no getting away from it, the stigma is there and it’s real and it’s a twat. This first reared it’s ugly head just a few weeks into my Single Mam life whilst I was in a meeting at work. The change in behaviour of a young person was being discussed during the meeting, and the very first question asked by my line manager was, “What is the situation at home? Are Mam and Dad together?” 😳 After a long pause, I swallowed. Then I answered.
“No. Mam and Dad are separated. Can you excuse me for a moment?”
I walked out of the meeting room with a clenched jaw and tears burning in my eyes. As the rhythm of my heels clip clopping sped up, I could feel the warm tears stream down my face just as I reached the toilet door. It was not the first time it had hit me that people look at single parents differently. It was the first time it had hit me that the single parent was me. I looked at myself crying in the mirror for a while, quite self indulgent thinking about it now, but I suppose I was trying to figure out who it was staring back at me.
Who was I now to people looking in?
- The Single Mam?
- The Single Mam who isn’t doing as a good a job as the Mam who lives with Dad?
- The Single Mam who did not stick it out for her family?
All these questions started to make me feel sick and dizzy but I shut my eyes tight, held my breath and then it stopped. I wiped away my tears (still looking at myself in the mirror mind 😂) and I remembered WHY I was a Single Mam.
Strength is knowing when to leave.
As it so happens, I didn’t have all that much strength to begin with or I would have left sooner. I knew for 6 months (or more) that I should leave him or he should leave me. The signs were all there, but I thought I was doing better by baby by staying. I wanted baby to have it’s parents living together in a happy home so that it could have everything. Turns out, if Mam and Dad are not happy… baby knows. Since we left, baby has grown in happiness, skill and character. This makes me feel guilty everyday for not leaving sooner. So, I have decided to write down some of the warning signs and red flags that I should have taken more notice of when my relationship with 3 was starting to crash and burn. Put the kettle on, hun, there were a few! Take a gander… They may help someone one day.
- You stop talking about plans for the future
We always used to get swept up in talking about holidays, home renovations, wedding ideas, baby number 2. It all stopped. To the point we didn’t even plan date nights anymore.
- You prefer spending time without them
He worked nights, I worked days. This used to pain us at first but it soon turned into bliss. We didn’t know how to be with each other in the end, we preferred not being with each other.
- You don’t text each other just to say ‘I love you’ anymore
In fact, we didn’t text each other at all unless it was to argue.
- One of you loses interest in having sex
I used to make excuses about not feeling myself after pregnancy… 18 months later and I was still feeling the same.
- You keep justifying the behaviour of your partner to friends / family
I spent my whole relationship doing this. “He’s had a terrible upbringing!” or “The army has fucked him up…”
Sometimes I wished he had punched me so that I would have something to show people.
The night I left him, I thought I was going to have to go to prison. I was plotting how to kill him, because I thought if I didn’t kill him, he might kill me.
I was left in a half naked ball on the cold floor of our bathroom, with the taste of blood in my mouth and parts of my body already bruised and swollen from being dragged around my hall, stairs and landing by my hair. I was trying to regulate my breathing to gain some energy before the next barrage of abuse came my way. The verbal was worse than the physical but I had no energy left for either. 3 was hiding my phone at this point, he had prized it out of my hand (and subsequently broken my finger) so that I could not contact anybody to help me. (Thank fuck for nosey neighbours in the end, eh?)
ANYWAY! I thought to myself, if I could just get 3 close enough to the top of the stairs, I could maybe push the 17 stone, 6 foot 2 lump down them, and I’d be ok… but it didn’t quite work out this way.
When 3 came back he was thirsty for more. He was unrecognisable, his eyes looked black and his jaw was wide, his whole face was just evil, like something possessed. The truth is, I’d seen him like this twice in the past but what came afterwards this night had never happened before and get this, I am so grateful that it did. If it hadn’t, I would probably still be coasting through life, posting bullshit ‘happy’ photos on social media and living on eggshells everyday.
I have only told this story a handful of times and I will never indulge in this memory to gain pity from anyone nor use it as an ‘excuse’ to people as to why I am a Single Mam. It is the reason why I am and it does not mean that I do any less of a job than somebody who stays or somebody who genuinely has a happy family home. I am simply making my point. I didn’t want to be or ask to be a Single Mam. I had to be. And that was absolutely the right decision for me and my baby.
Don’t let someone who does not know your value, tell you what you’re worth.
So! Old schoolers, Judgy McJudgersons and just people in general, who, after hearing just part of my story, would ever tell me that I should have stayed for the sake of my family? Anybody? Nope? I thought not. Moreover, I hope not.
BUT, unfortunately, the hussle and bustle of day to day life doesn’t allow for everybody to have the time to share their story with the people judging them. There’s no time to tell the teacher standing in front of you as you’re dropping off your child late to nursery again today (because getting yourself ready for work, baby ready for nursery and being out the door before 7.45 all on your own is fucking hard work!) There’s no time to tell the water company on the other end of the phone that as a Single Mam you’re struggling to make that payment (because you had to single handedly buy new school uniform and a fuck load of Thomas toys this month!) And there’s certainly no time to explain to the man eyeing you up at the bar, who has immediately now seen you as nothing more than a fling because you’ve told him, “I’m a Single Mam…”
So, I guess my point is that everybody, whether they are single or married or a parent or not, has a reason for where they are in their lives right now. I know in today’s society, with someone’s Facebook status being just a screenshot away, we are used to knowing everything about everyone… but just think, just because it didn’t make it to the public, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So be kind people. Be patient. Be non judgemental. But most of all, be proud. I know I am.