I Am Enough
Image credit: mbartstudios on Etsy
I finally framed the Christmas photo of my five children and me and placed it front and center on my desk.
This may not seem like a major accomplishment but, for me, it marks the beginning of my new life.
The time has finally come for me to embrace the fact that I am the head of my household and to accept that I…on my own…am enough.
Getting a divorce was not the plan I had for my family. I had already been through a prior divorce, and I was committed to my second marriage regardless of what came my way.
What I didn’t foresee was the financial deceit, the undiagnosed issues, the physical abuse of my son, or the refusal to seek help.
While getting a divorce wasn’t part of my plan, having a social worker from CPS sitting on my couch telling me I had better protect my children wasn’t a part of any of the possible storylines I had envisioned for myself either.
And so, with that one visit, I was quickly launched into a life on my own -- a life where the truth gave way to the lies, and I was left without a home, with little financial means, and with five children counting on me.
I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified or that I didn’t have moments praying for a knight-in-shining-armor kind of rescue.
Fortunately, my parents stepped in to offer my children and me a home and financial support while I got back on my feet.
As the kids settled into their new life at Mimi and Papa’s house, my anxiety manifested itself in frequent 3am dialogues with myself:
What am I going to do? I don’t know.
What am I going to do? I have to figure it out.
What am I going to do? I don’t know, but I’m on my own now to do it.
The past 1 ½ years have been a relearning for me…a relaunching in many ways.
My father has given me many pep talks about job searches and networking; my mother continually builds me up with stories of women warriors and women whose lives began at 50.
Their resounding message? You can do it.
On a deeper level, I’ve had to look at the old construct I held of a family being defined by two parents with children.
I’ve had to examine my 1950’s-modeled marriage where my husband handled everything financially and I did all the rest.
I’ve had to do some soul-searching about my rescue fantasy.
I’ve had to accept that for the majority of my adult life, I was married with children and defined myself as a half of a whole.
As I searched for understanding, my answer came in the Christmas photo of the kids and me.
One day while looking at it, I asked myself if this is the story of a divorced woman with lost dreams or the story of a mom charting a new course and leading her family on her own?
I know the story I want my future to be, so I went and bought a frame.
Every morning when I turn on my computer, I look at this photo. Today I see smiles and possibilities where once I saw sadness and an incomplete picture.
It’s a good reframing.
For women like me whose life circumstances have left them on their own whether by divorce, death, or illness, there is a need for positive messages about how we can successfully lead our families on our own; how we check that head of household income tax box and feel proud; and how we can both provide for and nurture our children without a partner.
Have you had to face being on your own? What positive messages can you share?
Kristy Campbell is a creative communications specialist, writer, and single mom of 5. She writes about transformation, divorce, and family issues and also contributes to ModernMom.com and The Huffington Post. She has created a Facebook community called Divorcehood for divorced and single parents. Join her there to be part of the conversation. You can find her work at www.kristycampbellcreative.com.