Single Mom Life: Problems

Currently, I feel as if my life is full of problems.  Feelings of fear, sadness, lack of belonging are all swirling around in me.  Thoughts contradict themselves in my mind. I have nothing to be sad about. I am fat. My boys are healthy. I should feel happy.  Odd memories of much unhappier times keep burping up.

At work, I have one friend with whom I seek her constant approval.  She is intelligent and sassy. She’s strong and opinionated.  I work hard to please her. Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I don’t.  Through the various teachings I have read, I know this seeking causes suffering.  A Course in Miracles teaches about “special relationships”.   These are our external relationships that we believe will fulfill us in some way.  I believe that these “special relationships” can help someone find a balance in their lives, but they become dangerous when they take the place of our own understanding. I am trying to make my friend’s approval mean something more than it can ever be.  I feel if I get her approval I will feel better about myself.  To be honest, she has given me her approval multiple times.  It is never enough.  It is never enough to fill the void.  It feels good for a moment, but then vanishes.

“That is the transition from specialness to holiness: it is not trading one external form for another – this partner for that one, this diet for that one, this landscape for that one – but rather seeing beyond specificity altogether.”

This guilt and shame and seeking all come from the wound in me that needs to be healed.  From the pain I feel right now, I think it is a large one.  It oozes with thoughts of my dad screaming at me.  It drips the spiteful words of my stepmother always telling me I am not good enough. My resentment and hatred of them spews out, too. Followed by my guilt for not appreciating what they had to give.  This back and forth of pain and shame is exhausting.  I breathe into it and through it.  Writing this down as tiny words on a screen is helping.

Writing this has eased much of this suffering. Sharing this with what appears to be an empty void feels cathartic.  The sun coming up over the trees by my back porch looks majestic suddenly.  Tears are running down my face, but inside I feel lighter.

Thank you, reader, for being here with me while I shared this pain.

close up of tree against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Single Mom Life: When You Decide to Eat All of the Dots

I called out of work.  I feel awful.  I feel like death.  I feel like eating this entire box of dots.

“But you are on this healthy lifestyle thing,” my brain tells me.  “No processed foods; no alcohol; no dots.”  Yet here I sit, in the bathroom, while Jonah is in the tub.  I am eating an entire box of Valentine’s dots. That is how long they have been in my cabinet. They are still delicious.  Whatever mixture of chemicals they used is perfect because they are really doing the trick.

I pick the gooey sweetness from between my teeth and continue to type.  My headache is starting to subside.

“What have I done?”  The side of my brain that convinced me to give these things up in the first place is horrified.  The box sits empty by my side.  Maybe it’s the stress from work today.  Perhaps it is this feeling of illness creeping through my body.  Or it could even be that I am just tired.

Either way, I know exactly what I have done. Am I proud of myself?  No, not particularly, but damn, they sure were good.

right person s index finger pointing clear plastic container filled on gray surface

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Single Mom Life: When You Get Defensive…

A Course in Miracles says that when you feel defensive, you should know this is your moment to see the illusion for what it is.  If you are feeling as if you have to defend some part of yourself or some greater idea, then your ego has you believing that there is an image of you or an image of something that you feel needs to be defended. This is the illusion and by acknowledging that you see that it is an illusion is enough.

So I started thinking about what causes me to feel defensive.  I feel defensive as a mom.  I am constantly defending myself against invisible critics.  I have conversations in my head with people who are critical of how clean my house is or because I missed signing that permission slip.  No real human being has said a thing to me, but I believe that’s what they would say. I get an image in my head of my parents discussing my inability to keep my house clean: the dirty toilets, the spotted sinks, the smelly fridge.  I hear my step-father’s voice in my head as I replay pieces of things I know he’s said.

If I am defensive about being a good mom, then my illusion is wrapped up in what being a good mom means.  The idea of a “mom” starts to seem out of focus to me.  Is being a good mom mean that I keep my house clean?  Is even the image of “mom” an illusion that I am trying defend.  So this is crazy because I feel like being a mom is a part of my identity.  I don’t know what I’d do without it, which makes me curious because I know that I was still me even when I wasn’t a mom.  Did bringing two more people into this world change the essence of me?  It changed me physically, and I do have significant changes to my emotional state, so how can I say that it is an illusion if it has impacted so many things?

I guess what I am saying is that I am still grappling with this idea.  How can being a mom be an illusion?

I Can Read Photographs

As an Empath, I call what I do “reading” because that’s what it feels like I am doing.  Feeling the insides of another person is  like trying to translate electrical impulses.  I see images and feel things that are not mine.  These feelings are off to the side and they start in my left arm.  It tingles and then there is a warmer feeling in the pit of my stomach and that’s where I read.  I read from the core of myself.  It’s like that is where the words are written and then my mind has to translate.

I know this sounds insane.  Anyone who can feel people the way I do probably gets it or maybe other people’s feelings settle in a different way for them, but this is how it is for me.  The more I think about it, it’s not really insane at all.  All people are connected.  All people are here for different reasons.  Maybe mine is to act like Google translate with other people’s emotions.  It’s not like I can see everything about someone.  It’s more like their electrical “essence”.  I sometimes feel something and have no idea why that person feels that way.  Whenever I try to interpret the “why” of another person’s feelings, I get in trouble.  So I have stopped trying to do that.

Back to reading pictures…so if you give me a photograph I can tell you stuff about that person.  In a previous blog post, I wrote about how all of that started.  My friends who are dating love this feature, and they send me pictures of their most current matches or people they meet in bars.  My texts back always entertain and help them gain an immediate intimacy.  I am not sure how right it is using my abilities in this way, but it feels harmless enough.

Last night, one of my friends sent me a pic of a guy she just started dating with the words “I hope he’s a good one” underneath.  After looking at the photos, I feel like he is a good one, but I also feel like he is emotionally distant, difficult to get close to, a workaholic.  He’s been hurt and it is extremely difficult for him to trust.  This is every guy she likes, so instead of reading this guy, I sent her this:

You should think about working on you as opposed to dating this gentlemen.  You always go for the emotionally unavailable guy, and you are disappointed time and time again.  When you stop relying on a guy for your emotions, you will be able to date a guy like this, but until then, you will be become needy and frustrating each and every time.  You are picking this guy because you believe that getting his love and attention will make you feel better about yourself.  Just stop.  You don’t have to be perfect at it, but practice just being aware that you are trying to fill a void that can never be filled by anyone other than you.

I wrote her this because that’s what I needed to realize before I was able to start my journey towards being joyful.  This is what I needed to hear over and over again.  I needed to understand that the deepest parts of me were broken and only healthy relationships would mend them, but I could not be a part of a healthy relationship until I looked at the the unhealthy patterns I was relying on to choose a partner.

I needed to be alone for a long time before I could be with the right/wrong guy.  As long as I was looking at the guy as the answer, I was lost.  Again, I am not perfect at this, but I am now aware of what I do and how I sabotage myself along the way.

I hope this doesn’t mean that she will stop asking me to read photos for her, and I do hope it helps her.

Be the Light

The winters are tough.  The days are short and the air is cold and brisk. Moments in the sun are few and far between.  Without the rays from the bright sun, it is difficult to stay motivated.  I don’t even want to peel off my clothes to get changed because the cold on my exposed skin is hard to take.  But I remind myself that it is important to stay grounded during this time.

The cold is just a passing a moment in the seasons, and it is the depth of the cold that allows me to appreciate the warm kiss of the sun when the spring arrives.  It is this time when I am nestled in my sweaters and scarves that I need to dig through to my light.  This is the light that almost dims with the rising of the large sun.  But now is the perfect time to sit with my imperfection and focus on the light within me because the sun cannot be here.

selective focus photography of tree leaves

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

I need to be the light right now.  The sun will be back and with it will be the distracting glory of warm weather and birth.  My light can then shine on others and maybe I can bring light to them and then when they become bright, they can shine back on me as well as.  Maybe this is how we can all get through this deep, thick winter.

You Are Not a Single Parent If…

As a single parent, I hear parents all of the time saying that they understand what it means to be a single parent.  They feel they understand because aspects of their lives, parenting, or relationships make them feel like they are in fact single parents.

I feel that the label “single parent” is a silent badge of honor.  I feel that to don this moniker is to take on the tremendous responsibilities that are wrapped in it.  This means that you are the only parent who can wake up in the middle of the night to tend to your sick child.  There is no one you can call; no one who can be a soothing voice on the other end of the line.  There is no one to complain to that understands that is just the way your son is.  There is no extra paycheck going into the account to pay for braces and soccer practice.  There is no one else to borrow a car from in the morning when yours breaks down, or who makes sure that there is money going into your retirement fund.  There is no extra pair of hands and eyes, so you can just run to the store to get milk without packing up the kids.  When it snows or the grass needs to be cut or something heavy lifting needs to be done or a wound needs to be tended or your daughter gets her period and you don’t have the right perspective, there is no other person to constantly fill that void.   To say you are a single parent when you are married to someone is both insensitive and uninformed.  So I created a list that I feel kindly outlines when you are truly not a single parent:

  1.  The other parent travels for work and often leaves for a few days at a time each month.
  2. The other parents does not do chores around the house or any of the cooking.
  3. The other parent lives in a different city for work during the week, but is home one the weekends.
  4. The other parent works really long hours.
  5. The other parents doesn’t seem to share the same level of commitment that you have for your children.
  6. You live with a significant other who is not the child’s father and he/she doesn’t take any responsibility for the child.  (If this is your scenario, you may want to do some careful thinking.)

Again, the title of Single Parent is one that needs to be used with caution.  It is extremely difficult to be one, and if that isn’t you, please refrain from using that title.  We would greatly appreciate it.

Single Mom Life: A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time…

In a city far, far away…

There was once a princess…

Actually, I don’t know where I am going with this.  To be honest, there is no fairy-tale way to begin this story because this is certainly not a fairy-tale type of story, but the advice that comes from it needs to be said.  This is partly because, just recently, a very good friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend because of this advice.  My student teacher heard the same exact thing two years ago, and she also broke up with her current boyfriend.  My friend’s niece heard my tale and she too broke off her two year engagement.  They have all thanked me for my information.

“My life is a cautionary tale,” I told to my mom on the phone.

“Yes,” she answered, “but look at all the good you’ve done.”  These three women all ended long term relationships with significant others their families had been warning them about for years.  They ignored their families’ pleas because they believed they saw something in their relationship that others could not.

Here were some of the signs I told them I saw in my relationship, but I ignored them all. Instead, I continued the relationship and even pushed him into marrying me.

A list of all of the things I ignored and later realized were serious red flags:

  1. I ignored his constant lethargy.  He was always tired and full of excuses for why he could not help more around the house.  “You are just a clean freak,” he would say. “No one can keep up with your level of clean.”  When we had children, and my level of clean naturally lowered, I realized that he never felt like doing any chores at all.  He had just let me do them all of the time.
  2.  I ignored his emotional shut downs.  He was never available to talk about problems in our relationship.  “Can we talk about this when I am not enjoying a cup of coffee?”  or he would say, “It’s too late at night to discuss this issue. I am just trying to relax.” He was always too busy or just enjoying his downtime, but it amounted to our never discussing the mounting issues that were piling around us.  He would never say “no” but he would never say “yes” either.
  3. I ignored our lack of capability.  I love to read and go for runs and argue about controversial topics.  He loved music and drinking beer and sitting around just enjoying the creature comforts.  I always relied on my friends to provide mental stimulation. I relied on my job to be an outlet for mental energies, and I still don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with having your own things in a relationship, but when you cannot find any common ground with your partner on multiple levels, the foundation of the relationship can start slipping away.
  4. I ignored how much I started to resent his complete inability to support me financially.  When we were young, he never had money, but I believed that was only because we were just getting started.  But as we got older and started to move towards adulthood, his inability to make and keep money started to become more of a liability.  As a very independent woman, I grew up and still very much believe that I do not need a man to pay my way, but it is nice when they can.  Being with a man who had no money and no way to support us or our family was a tremendous burden.  I was working full-time, and he was the stay-at-home parent, but he would not even sit down to help me pay bills.  All of the money was my responsibility, and this was a huge burden.
  5. I ignored the way he treated his family, especially the way he treated his mom.  His mom is a train wreck, and she lacked boundaries and many members of his family were also struggling with multiple aspects of life.  I always blamed them for why he shut down and didn’t even return their phone calls.  I was irritated by his family also, so it made some sense to me when he would say, “It doesn’t matter. I don’t listen when she starts going on about that stuff.”  Or he would let his voicemail box get full so his family could not leave messages about their continual problems.  He was never there for them when they needed him, which I selfishly attributed to his being with me instead of helping them, but then I realized that as soon as anyone needed him, he disappeared.  And he didn’t always disappear physically.  He was just as good at shutting down emotionally to the point where he was truly not aware of what was going on around him.  “When did you say that?”  He would ask me tiredly, exhausted by my need for him to do something to help keep our family going.  “Are you kidding me, right now?  I told you multiple times and wrote it down.  What planet are you on?” I would yell.  As the pressures of our lives mounted and his protective shut down mode went into overdrive, we lost sight of everything.

Why did I ignore these things?  I ignored them because I believed that he would change and because in isolation none of these things seemed to loom as large as they did when they were all piling on top of our marriage.  It wasn’t until we had children that these flaws turned tragic, and each one felt like a crime against me, against our family.  To retaliate against my hurtful attacks at his character, he shut down further.  His passive aggressive nature and his need to punish me for making him feel inept and child-like pushed our relationship over the edge.

Finally, I ended it.  He was shocked.  He could not believe that I would quit on him like that, not realizing he had given up on us long ago because in his mind he was coping.  He could not wrap his mind around the idea that I felt miserable and trapped in a relationship that was sucking the life out of me.  I had let the story play out to long, and now we were married and had children, but I destroyed it all to start over from scratch.

“A phoenix,” my mother said.

“Yes,” I agreed because I liked the image. I felt far from a phoenix. I felt small and fragile and scared.

I hope this story makes other women think.  I hope this story makes it so someone else does not ignore the red flags.