I once had this undeniably incredible talent of making it look like I had my shit together.
I had the innate ability to give the illusion that all was well in my world and nothing could possibly be wrong.
People assumed my life was perfect. I had everything: a loving partner, a beautiful, healthy child (only 1 at the time), a home, a budding career, not a care in the world.
I was always happy. Always smiling.
I was so smart, I always seemed to do well at everything I put my mind to.
My relationship was loving and perfect. My partner was handsome, loving and worked hard to ensure that his family was cared for.
Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.
What everyone didn’t know was that it was all complete and utter bullshit.
A grand illusion.
I did not have my shit together. My life was far from perfect. My partner and I barely spoke to each other. While my son was healthy and perfect in every way… I was essentially raising him on my own. The reality of things was, I was far too young and immature to be having children, I was completely clueless as to what was required of me. I, was a hot mess.
I was always smiling because I couldn’t bear the thought of people looking down on me because I was such a mess. The thought of someone feeling sorry for me made my stomach turn. I was always smiling because I never wanted anyone to know what was actually going on in my life. I didn’t want people to ask questions because I didn’t want to have to explain or justify my situation.
I succeeded at most things I set my mind to because I was an overachiever and the thought of failing or being anything but perfect was devastating for me.
Everything I did had to be perfect. I had to succeed. I had to do well. If I didn’t do well, I’d end up in a downward spiral of pity and self-despair, which I would try to manage on my own because, Heaven forbid anyone ever know that I suffered, stuttered or tripped up in any way. Heaven forbid I break character and ruin the illusion.
I was not happy. I was completely miserable. I was depressed. I was anxious all the time. My depression and my need to be the happy, perfect, always smiling Stepford wife ruled my life and crushed my spirit.
I may have been smiling on the surface, but the sad reality of things was that I felt so broken I could barely stand my own company, let alone subject others to the company of my self-loathing.
I used to feel like I had to be around people so that I wasn’t alone with my thoughts, but when I was surrounded by friends I felt even worse. It was a vicious circle that drove me deeper and deeper into depression.
My relationship had been going nowhere for years. We both gave up all efforts to fix things and came to an unspoken agreement to just coast through things as long as we could each possibly manage: I don’t talk to you. You don’t talk to me. We keep this charade up for as long as we can and nobody needs to know any different. Deal? Deal.
Once our second and third child came along, he worked and I stayed home. He’d come home from work, we’d eat dinner as a family, and then he would retreat to the basement where he would stay until it was time to go to bed. I’d stay upstairs in my own world and take care of the kids and fulfill all my “wifely duties,” finally climbing into bed once the kids were settled and I would pray that my night would end there.
I was ok with this arrangement…. but not really.
It took me 9 years to manifest the courage to leave this relationship. It took me 9 years to realize that I was not going to accept THIS as my life. I was not going to allow our kids to look at our relationship and believe that THIS was what they got to look forward to. THIS was unacceptable to me and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wanted so much more for them. While I hadn’t actually experienced the “more” myself, I knew it was out there somewhere and if leaving my partner and doing things on my own gave them a better chance of finding the “more” I was dreaming of, then that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
It was in the moment when I decided to SHOW UP for not only myself but for my babies where I finally found my strength.
I decided that I would no longer settle for a love that was anything less than spectacular as to make sure I was leading by example for my kids. As a parent, we want the best for our kids. We know our kids look to us as their guiding light, but oftentimes we are afraid to take any kind of a leap out of fear that it may offset the balance of our life or status, even if it means we will be better off.
So, why does it take so many people so long to decide? Why do some people live their whole lives in a toxic relationship and never actually take those steps towards bettering their situation?
1. We stay together for the kids.
Let’s look at it this way for a moment, shall we? You fight. You argue. You bicker about everything. You don’t have sex. There is no intimacy. You barely speak. There is barely any love. You two have become complacent and at this point, you are really only together out of convenience. Some days you probably can’t even stand seeing their face. This the kind of relationship you want for your kids? You want your kids growing up thinking that THIS is what they get to look forward to? We see relationships like this (perhaps our parents) and we wonder why our kids end up with assholes, narcissist and abusers. Why? Because we taught them that it was ok. We taught them that this was not only acceptable but that it was just how it was supposed to be. We get into relationships that tear us down and we wonder why our kids end up so messed up and have so many issues to recover from as adults.
Let me tell you, staying together “for the kids” is actually causing your kids more harm than good. I don’t think I have ever come across a good example of staying together for the kids.
2. We worry about what others may think of us if we decide to leave and end our relationship / marriage.
This one is HUGE. How many people stay in a toxic relationship because they are worried of what they’re parents will say, or that their kids will look down on them, or that someone, who has no business meddling in their relationship, is going to have some smart ass comment to make them feel shitty about their decision?
There comes a time in your life when you must start living for YOU and not giving a shit about what other people think. Leaving a toxic relationship for the sake of your own mental health or that of your kids is a great place to start. It’s not easy making the decision to leave, but if staying is costing you your peace, then it is costing you too much.
2. We worry that we may not be able to manage things on our own.
It’s no secret that being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Raising kids on your own is not for the faint of heart. It’s long – never ending hours, you’re playing both roles 24/7, sometimes it means taking on 100% of the financial responsibilities. Taking on the financial burden of a single parent household is no easy task when we live in a society that does not allow single parents to raise their kids comfortably on their own. This means we go without luxuries. We go without extras. We go without a lot, actually. Hell, there are some weekends where I go without food, I will essentially live off of rice and coffee. It’s far from luxurious, but I manage. New clothes are a thing of the past and you can forget out about regular trips to the salon or going out to get your nails done or even going out with your friends for that matter. Stay-cation and girls night in garners a whole new meaning.
It’s. Not. Easy, but the struggle doesn’t have to last forever. As time goes on and you adjust to life on your own, the scales will eventually balance out. Finances will be tight in the beginning, you will struggle, you will go without, but you WILL be ok. Trust me.
I tell my kids all the time, we may not rich in money, but we are rich in love and we will always have each other and that’s all that matters. I’m not sure if they understand the power behind that statement, but they all remember it and recite it verbatim to me when they know I need to hear it, so if they don’t get it now I know they will eventually.
3. We worry that we may never find another partner to spend our days with.
Nobody wants to spend their life alone. I know so many people who STRESS about being alone. Full on panic attack, frenzy, omg I am never going to meet my Prince Charming. I’m going to be alone forever type thing. I personally don’t get it because I prefer being on my own, but I’m not normal. For many people, one of the greatest fears of life is dying alone. So many people seek out companionship as fulfillment and misplace purpose with partnership. Boom, let’s repeat that one…
We replace purpose with partnership. Basically, we sacrifice ourselves and our purpose to enter into a partnership.
I know I have done this on more than one occasion. I’ve given so much of myself in a relationship that I’ve lost myself along the way.
Let’s get this straight, we DO NOT need a partner to be complete. We are very much perfect and complete on our own. We need to learn to love, respect and appreciate our own company before inviting someone else in. Being alone really isn’t all that bad once you get used to it. Once you get back to YOU and leave all that other bullshit behind, it’s very enjoyable.
4. We worry that maybe we are being rash and not giving the relationship enough of a chance to work.
Here you have two entirely incredible and unique individuals trying to live cohesively while raising tiny minions into decent human beings. That shit is hard. It takes work, but it takes work from BOTH sides. If the relationship is one-sided and you feel like the other just isn’t living up to expectations or promises you guys need to communicate and see if you can figure your shit out. There are many avenues of help and alternative therapies that can assist you in working through your issues.
If you are not compatible, you WILL get to a point where enough is enough and you will have to call it for the sake of your sanity. Your partner can be the most amazing human being on the planet, but if you’re not compatible with each other, you’re not compatible. Period. If your mental health and emotional well being suffer on a daily basis, you need to re-evaluate why you are trying to make things work in the first place. Is it love? Is it convenience? Is it fear?
Figure it out. Choose. Follow through.
I come from a dysfunctional and very broken family. I had an abusive stepfather and a father who abandoned me when I needed him the most. My mom was not in a good place during my childhood and was very much under the control of her husband at the time. I believe that I stuck it out in my ex because I felt like I needed a partner in order to feel loved and secure, just like my mother did. It took me YEARS to realize that being with my partner was actually making me feel more alone, isolated and insecure than anything else because we just weren’t compatible.
When I decided to take my power back, my whole life changed. My demeanor, my attitude, my confidence. It all shifted. I started to see ME again and it was beautiful.
I released the need to be with him and I chose ME.
Choosing me was the hard road, but being on my own is still far better than being where I was before.