Notes On Single Motherhood: Support System

I can't speak for other single mothers, but I know that for a time, I retreated from social life for a little bit. As I've mentioned before, I did feel a little bit of shame and perceived stigmatization. Looking back, I am guessing it came from really low self-esteem. Clearly, withdrawing myself from social circles was not going to help with that! But it allowed me some time to lick my wounds, I think.

What I want to talk about is what happened when I came back out of the cave.

I didn't really know what to expect, but the light was brighter than I remember it (chehhh, so metaphorical right??). Seriously...all those friends that I thought were awesome before my self-imposed social exile, were like 10,000 times more awesome when I "came back"! It was the most bizarre thing...I had spent years feeling unloved and unworthy...and these beautiful people just flipped that in a few short months.

I can't stress enough the importance of a strong social support system. Family, friends, my children - without them, I wouldn't be in the emotional and mental state that I am in today (which is fairly stable with just a touch of crazy thrown in, let's just be honest). Divorce destroys you. It destroys your past, your present, and the future that you will now never have. Depression is a natural reaction to that destruction. Even as a generally positive and upbeat person, there were some dark moments where I wouldn't have minded not waking up the next day.

This goes beyond giving credit or validation - the people who helped me in those troubled times know how much they mean to me - this is to stress the importance of having strong people around you to help you up when you've fallen and you feel you could never get up. If you're going through divorce, or difficult times, PLEASE REACH OUT. Have faith in the people who love you - they will be there. All you need to do is ask.

A support system goes beyond the emotional and mental support. Some of the support is very much physical. I had an amazing network of secondary caregivers for my children when I was working two jobs and going to grad school - my parents, aunt & uncle, and amazing babysitters made it a lot easier for me to focus on my career in those years. I literally could not be where I am now without them!

It's really important to set up some kind of may not be ideal, but trust that it's a temporary arrangement while you get back up on your feet. I have one amazing friend (and single mama) that is now in grad school doing her MBA and had to leave her children with her parents...on the other side of the country. Was it hard? Yes! Many a tearful messages were sent between us in those first few months. But now she's got a system down, where she goes and visits the moment she has a few free days, and they take vacations together on school holidays and term breaks.

Eventually, we all find our groove. Mine took about half a year. In that time, I re-connected with old friends, and made plenty of new ones. I had family members - cousins, aunts, nieces - that I realized I never got to know as people, until I went through this and they held my hand throughout, just to let me know I'm not alone. I also met men that I never would have even bothered getting to know when I was younger! (We all know y'all are looking forward to THAT blog post, hahahaha).

Mostly, the takeaway from this is: when you've fallen into that deep, dark hole, reach out your hand. You'll be surprised by how many hands will reach in to pull you back up into the world.