Learning To Move On
What happens when a woman is left by her spouse and has to go it alone with her children? Sadness and loss are universal. In times of stress, self-doubt and grief, some women go into deep depression and never pick up their lives again. Others take a long time to heal, and still never really recover from the traumas. There are also those who achieve one goal after another and becoming better persons.
All in all, they have to go through emotionally trying years after the breakup. The journeys they take, for better or for worse, are etched in their memories for the rest of their lives.
ME, a single mom, now in her fifties, did what she could to clean up her hurt and move on.
"My ex left me for a younger woman with long hair and long legs. After the separation, nobody in both families was concerned about how I might fare. All that was heard was, ‘Will he make it with the new woman?’ Accusations were piled on me for not being a good wife. Even my parents and siblings had misgivings about me."
"After 17 years' of marriage, I found myself single again. Although I had a job and was independent, the breakup was terrifying, absolutely terrifying for me. The emotional shock deeply affected my children's school performance and my job performance. I was demoted. My children were playing truant and the two boys were involved in fights."
"My world was totally upside down. Sometimes I didn't know who I was and why I was who I was. I was a very confused person trying to be a woman and a mother."
"I went through a period of depression during which I was constantly sick. Happiness, I found, had nothing to do with money or material ownership: it has to do with the state of my soul. Extreme loneliness turned me to the dark side of my soul: I wanted to kill myself so I didn't have to face everyone. But my children's sweet faces stopped me from sliding into insanity."
"When it is dark, it is very hard to believe that there will be light some day. I was extremely vulnerable physically and emotionally. Even walking was painful. I couldn't raise my voice above a murmur. Everything I heard, read, see or touch told me that I was a failure."
"I was like an invalid, a zombie or a corpse. When I was very low, I cried in front of my children but I told them I would be fine and that it was good for me to cry and got their hugs. The realization that my daughter and my sons were more matured than I had ever imagined was a comfort."
"When I got over the depression, a high level of anger took over me. I wanted to slap my ex and scream insults at him in his office. I wanted to sleep with any man to get rid of the anger I had for myself. At times, I thought about playing with men's emotions to take revenge over my hurt. But I did none of these - instead I focused on my children and my job."
"There was a period I pretended that the divorce didn't happen by staying real busy, and numbing myself through liquor and drugs. Then, I sought answer from God about why it happened. I carried on by telling myself that God gave me the sufferings so that I would be born again as a new person. My love for my children also gave me the determination to go on."
"Unable to withstand gossips about my single status, I went to a city to start a new life. I had no friends in the strange place. There were countless of nights when I faced four walls in a strange room. I cried, for I missed my ex."
"Eventually I got counseling from a women's hotline. I decided not to cover up the hurt but try to bring as much healing into my heart as I could by reaching out to others. Whenever hopelessness came upon me, I reminded myself that 5 to 10 years from then, what I was feeling would no longer be my reality."
"Still, I was out in the wilderness alone with my children, how I reacted to people and the surroundings determined if we had a chance to survive. Fear often gripped me. I was scared to death about being alone with three kids in a strange city. Every night I lay on the bed wishing that it would not turn daylight again for a long time. I thought I would never make it."
"As the only wage earner of the household, I had to manage my finance carefully. I had to sacrifice my personal wants and saved every single cent for my children' needs. One time, I wanted a dress so much that I bit my fingernail off so it bled and I had to go home without buying it. I wasn't punishing myself but holding off all temptations to make a better future. Every time I thought I wasn't going to make it, I repeated this in my mind, "I will strive, I can and I must."
"I did not allow myself to lapse into a state of vulnerability with raw, naked emotions just like what I had right after the separation. I read self-help books and worked on my emotions. Women friends who have positive attitude about life changed me. One woman showed me the value of solitude, one got me into a regular exercise regime and another one showed me meditation. Each friend gave me a piece of herself to help me heal. Each forward step I took became a stepping stone to another step."
"Like a coma victim returning to the world after a long sleep, I could not remember my hurt even when I tried to recreate the pain. I began to reevaluate my life. I saw that the divorce was like a death, and that sufferings and deaths are part of life. I congratulated myself for having experienced love, lost love and knowing how to love."
"I began to live my life differently: use time productively, treat friends with kindness, look for love differently by volunteering my time for disadvantaged people instead of looking for dates with men, and become more assertive in all aspects of my life. These new revelations transformed me."
"I don't distort the children's view about their father even though he sees them only periodically. He is preoccupied with his young wife and young children. My kids have graduated from university and they are now professionals. Most of all, they love me very much and speak highly of me in front of their peers."
"When I saw my ex the other day, I didn't feel any resentment, anger or hurt. He is more like a stranger than a man with whom I shared my life with. The past 15 years have widened the differences between us. He is still the same happy-go-lucky person, but I've become a new woman."
"Like a piece of fine glass that has been through the fire and comes out more transparent but with a keener edge, I'm much stronger than before the divorce. Although I've just been diagnosed with cancer, my future is still bright. I am not ready to die as there is so much in store for me. Soon, I will totally shift gears and move into a new direction."
"However, I cannot forget the past fifteen years for they were THE MOST PAINFUL YEARS OF MY LIFE. My heart breaks whenever I hear other single mom's stories. If it was hard for me - a woman with an independent income and a promising career - it must be even harder for those who do not have what I have. I want to tell them that no mater how difficult it is now, it is never too late to start all over and it's never too late to be happy again!"
By Chong Sheau Ching