It’s been a rough few weeks, emotionally more than anything. That’s one thing I seem to always have down, the practical stuff, I’m good at handling life when shit goes down. It’s easy, I can make arrangements and have the best support network for when life gets tipped upside down. It’s one of the first things I learnt and sorted when I left my husband, who could I trust and who could help, because going it alone as a single mum isn’t easy, especially when the ex-husband and in laws don’t want to be a part of your child’s life and when you have only a limited amount of immediate family close by. You have to build your support network and know who can trust and rely on (and of course equally support in return too, it’s a two way street). You also have to get good at asking, you have to learn to not be shy about saying “can you help me please?” Because even when shit goes down, life goes on.
Like I said though this, and just practical nature mean that I can handle the logistics of life. When life throws some crap at me I manage to juggle it, that’s easy, I can stay calm in a crisis and could do that recently, I can handle the stuff that needs sorting. I just crack on, make my apologies for things I have to cancel and politely and gratefully rope in the help I need. Done, life goes on. The emotional stuff however, that’s a different ball game…
You see that’s hard when you’re on your own. When you tuck little P into bed, ring Granny T and see how she’s getting on and if she’s being looked after and settled by the nurses, then hang up and the silence falls in your house, that’s when it’s hard. My phone pinged the evening on the first day mum wasn’t well, I’d rang one of my Aunties and just burst into tears feeling suddenly like I just needed to speak to “a grown up” where the daft words I blurted out as I cried and laughed at the same time. I mean I’m 36, a grown woman with a daughter, responsibilities, a successful career etc, I am a grown up!! We all know what I meant though, I just needed to feel looked after as well as a faced this. Anyway, my phone pinged and it was a WhatsApp from Uncle M (he’s a legend and I love him dearly but that’s a whole other blog post) his words were so simple yet so meaningful, “are you ok?” Obviously he’d also asked for an update on his sister and how she was but it honestly made me feel so much better to here someone say, “are you ok?” I suddenly didn’t feel as alone.
You see that’s just it, it’s the hardest part about being a single parent. It brings with it a loneliness that I don’t think you ever fully understand and comprehend until you are one. Most of the time I cope with it, it’s fine, it really is fine, I have a good routine and I have plenty of friends a good work life balance (most of the time) hobbies and my life is pretty full. I do think sometimes I do fill it and keep busy to prevent feelings of loneliness, but I digress, that’s something to explore another time. There’s moments though where the loneliness hits and it’s hard, like when it’s a “family” occasion and there’s just me and P. I mean I love me and P time, I love being a mum and I love the bond and relationship we have, it’s so bloody great but it’s hard to enjoy sometimes when the adverts, social media and society around you is pushing the special events coming up with the stereotypical two point four families and you don’t fit that mould. I mean I never really like to fit a mould and conform anyway and P couldn’t give a hoot about having anyone else in our unit other than me and her (well she wants a dog and a unicorn too but that’s not happening anytime soon). So really I’m a bit fickle and essentially need to learn how to cope with this.
Sounds a bit defeatist I know and I actually don’t mean it like that, I do have to learn to cope with it though because I don’t really want to change our set up either and I don’t want to be ungrateful for the emotional support I do have! I’ve got great friends, all eager to help out, offers and invites of going over for dinner etc so I wasn’t on my own whilst worrying about my mum. The thing is though, I have to be at some point, I mean it’s lovely and kind that friends and people offer and I love it and go and it makes me feel better, but at some point I have to come home and ultimately be alone with a sleeping little P. Which is hard when life is being rough, it’s hard when you’re juggling life in different way, looking after Granny T and a little P. It’s hard when you’re holding it altogether to sort everyone else out and things just seem a lot, when things just seem big and a lot.
I’m so fickle though, I don’t really deep down want to change any of the logistics of my life, it’s a good set up and really I’m happy yet I’m not (told you fickle-cue eye roll) and before you sit there going “start dating again and meet someone” it’s also really not about that. Yes, I’d like to meet someone but my happiness should not and will not be reliant on someone else because I’ve been there, done that and worn the abusive relationship t-shirt and brutal honesty it’s lonelier, harder and unhealthy for me and little P. The issue really is about my mindset and how I find and develop my own strategies to cope with the emotions get hard and how I actually ask for that help. What do I say and ask for from my support network and ultimately what do I really need from them to get through the tough spot? I don’t think I know yet and that’s the problem.
I do know that the simple “are you ok?” helped a lot though and I’m not sure my Uncle M realised how much it meant to me late that Saturday evening. I’d spent the day keeping everyone updated on how Granny T was and had regular check ins from people about how she was and as I ran on adrenaline I didn’t really stop to think about how I was until I crumbled for a very brief moment then got his text. Because I sort of was ok but also wasn’t all at the same time. That’s how the last few weeks have panned out really, I’ve been ok but not ok at the same time. I cracked again the other day, probably worse than I have at all over the last few weeks this time small things really in comparison to what I’d been through, but it just all arrived, the exhaustion, the frustration and the worry, then came flooding out.
I suppose this blog is the first time in awhile that I’m being honest with myself, that the only thing that needs to change at the moment in my life is me, my mindset and my coping mechanisms for when emotions get hard. Because it is lonely being a single mum, especially when shit goes down but that isn’t going to change, it is what it is, life is going to throw shit at me and I’m going to be fine, I can sort stuff and can cope but I’ve just sometimes got to decide how.