“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ll never forget the date. It’s etched in my mind. Although I was half expecting it in the weeks leading up to the night we separated, the impact was greater than anything I have experienced. It was almost like a death, but the person I was losing was still in front of me. He had decided that this life, our life, wasn’t for him.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe, there was a tightness across my chest and I carried it around for months. I threw myself into my work to keep my mind occupied, and although I was present for my son Noah, I wasn’t present in myself. I was lost. This just didn’t happen in my family. Everyone I know has been together for years and are still madly in love. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. This was my goal – what had just happened wasn’t my life plan. I have a massively supportive family who I could lean on and who helped me in any way they could, but it still took a long time for me to find myself again, to be whole without the person I thought made me whole. That there was my mistake in itself. I didn’t need someone to be whole.
My husband left me after going into a two-week-long depression where he wouldn’t tell me what was going on. He just kept saying it was ‘his problem.’ I later learned this depression likely stemmed from him not wanting to leave his son, but feeling like he was stuck in a marriage he didn’t want to be in. The night we separated he told me he loved me but, ‘Not in that way’ anymore. He told me not to cry, he couldn’t handle it. Things weren’t perfect between us for about a year, but after Christmas, I thought things had been going ok. We applied for a mortgage and it was in those weeks waiting for approval that he made the decision to leave, in early February 2017. Maybe that was the final straw.
I have fantastic close friends and an even better-extended family. My cousins came with wine and food almost every weekend after the break-up. They will never know how grateful I am. I remained strong on the outside and everyone asked how I kept it together, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely difficult and the most traumatic experience in my life. I kept my act together because I had to. I am a strong person, that helps. I come from a family of strong people. My Dad is strong, and my Mother is even stronger. My grandmother raised 3 girls on her own as a widower at just 42. It’s safe to say it’s probably in the bloodline, and I’ve got great role models there.
I slowly rebuilt myself through counseling for over a year, meditation (I used the Calm app every night). It was my amazing family and the true friends I can now count on my fingers who propped me up. The loneliness is also something you will be unprepared for. You did everything as a family, now where do you go and what do you do while the majority of your friends are out on their family days? The last thing you want to do is spend it with a happily married couple or try to entertain your child while you meet your child-free friend for coffee and a ‘chat.’ (more time is spent telling your child to sit down/stop that/behave).
I’m now in a great place but I still have difficult moments and difficult days, specifically when it comes to parenting alone or finding things to do on the weekends. I’m still learning as I grow with Noah. Everyone can relate when I say, every day is a new day with kids.
Now that I have the courage and confidence to speak out about my story I want to inspire others through Mint Movement, a community for single parents, to do the same. It wasn’t until I became a single parent that I really began to understand how much of a taboo subject it still is. The terms ‘broken home,’ ‘broken family,’ ‘failed marriage,’ ‘broken marriage,’ are still terms used to describe my situation, all of which I loathe. These are really dated terms. What determines a family in 2019? Families don’t have to be mother, father, children. They don’t even have to contain a mother or father, they could be aunts, uncles, your step-family or even friends. And some families have one parent. Why hasn’t society caught up with that?
I know for some people, strength is a lot more difficult to find within, and some people may not have a support network around them, but with Mint Movement, I want you to know – you are not alone. There are many of us going through the same thing and you have a support network of people to reach out to for coffee, chats, friendships, even just to read stories and ask questions or know you are doing a great job. You can move on and start enjoying life again with your kids – know that you will. Sure, you will have good days and bad days, I still get those, but they are now few and far between.
Noah loves his Dad and we have always maintained a civil relationship for his sake. He is the best thing that has come out of this relationship for me, and for that, I am grateful.”
This story was written by Niamh Tracey of Dublin, Ireland. You can follow her on Instagram here. You can also visit her website Mint Movement here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our free newsletter for our best stories.
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