Despite my rather traditional upbringing, I’ve never truly felt that I needed a man, or a relationship, to feel “complete” or happy. As someone who experienced broken friendships, and the highs and lows of various non-romantic relationships, I was rather forced to cultivate an independent spirit early on in life. And yet, while I experienced emotional pain when some of my past relationships and friendships ended, these breakups did not shutter me in the way my divorce eventually did. That’s how I learned that even an independent woman can experience an entanglement in a relationship that goes beyond what she thought was possible.
Going through the divorce revealed a completely unknown side of me. A side that showed me that I was not as emotionally tough and independent as I thought. My marriage had numerous elements of abuse, and it eroded the confidence that I previously had. I still remember feeling very lost emotionally (and even physically) in the first few weeks after separating from my ex-husband. Somehow, he managed to deeply plant (or maybe re-surface) thoughts of worthlessness and self-doubt in me. Even though there was no evidence to support his crushing opinions of me as a person, I felt deeply hopeless, defeated, and anxious.
It took a few years of positive self-talk, therapy, and inner work for me to be where I am today. It’s not that I am 100% healed, but the dark cloud of that toxic relationship no longer lingers over my head daily. However, I can still remember that feeling of being lost and broken after becoming a single mother with a baby in my arms, with no one else to support or encourage me. At least no one who was physically there for me. If you are experiencing deep loss and emotional void after divorce or separation, just know there is hope. Even though you might feel the world will never be the same, you can feel whole again.
One thing that helped me through the most difficult times, when my mind was full of lies that I was told to believe about myself in my past marriage, was positive self-talk. Although it could feel a bit superficial at first, if you stick with it long enough, self-talk is a great way to start healing your heart and soul. It still saddens me, but one thing that I had to overcome was the erroneous belief about my unworthiness as a mother and a woman. I remember feeling very anxious and alone, and still repeating to myself that I am a good mother, over and over again in my head. Eventually, I was able to feel that I was not just saying that to feel better. If you can create your internal gallery of examples that would prove the negative self-belief false, it would help your positive self-talk to go deeper.
I am not a believer in the power of positive self-talk that is not backed up by inner references. We all have moments in life when we felt (even for a moment) beautiful, worthy, smart, resourceful, funny, adorable, etc. Bringing those moments back to life during positive self-talk can make a big difference. It is still something I do today when I feel my confidence is sleeping away, be it at home, work, or in relationships. I remind myself to be kind to myself through my inner thoughts and statements and join these thoughts with internal references.
People who work with people in high states of anxiety or trauma know that it “is a challenging journey, but also an empowering one. Trauma acts as the catalyst for us to learn how to better engage in self-care and introduces us to endless modalities for healing and expressing ourselves, enabling us to channel our crisis into our transformation.” (thehotline.org) If you are having a difficult time forming these positive thoughts, try channeling your feelings through prayer, art, meditation, exercise, music, and mindfulness. We all have different ways to help us get to the right destination, but just know that you are investing your time wisely and this healing will be a solid foundation for your prosperous future.
The reason for this post is to share hope with women who are just at the very beginning of their divorce journey. Those mothers who have a difficult time accepting single motherhood as something that is not the end of the world. You might not be a “full unit” according to the traditional ways of describing a full family, but you and your children are whole as you are.
Yes, there might be days when attending school events, parks, shopping malls, and other public places will make you feel like everyone around you is happily married, except you. But you know better than that. You can remind yourself that full does not equal whole, and what appears on the surface of relationships is not what happens behind closed doors. Your inner wisdom will guide you through these momentary struggles of feeling alone. Your love for your children will strengthen your resolve to be courageous and embrace your journey as a single mother.
Need some extra motivation from other single moms? Read my post about single mothers succeeding against all odds here.