I was taught marriage is forever, especially if you have kids. When I got married the first time, I took my marriage vows extremely seriously — planning to love and cherish my spouse until death parted us. Unfortunately, he didn't take our vows as seriously as I did, and our marriage was not a healthy one. So I left, and felt horrible guilt as a result. It took me a long time to realize that, sometimes, leaving your partner is the best thing for your kid. And you.
Unfortunately, so many people view divorce as failing, and until I experienced the end of a marriage that list of people included me. It took going through the process of separation and divorce to realize that staying in a horrible relationship "for the kids" was actually not good for anyone, including the kids. Contrary to popular social belief or what anyone looking from the outside in would assume, leaving my partner was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
While it wasn't easy in the beginning, and there were definitely some less-than-pleasant moments, being a single parent got easier every day. Eventually I found a new rhythm and a new normal. One day, it dawned on me that we were not just OK, we were thriving. Life was so much easier for everyone without all of the fighting and tension. Realizing that I had made the best decision for our family made much of the guilt drift away, and I found myself thinking that I wished I had had the courage to leave my unhealthy marriage sooner. I started to feel excited for new beginnings and a brighter future. Honestly, it was the best I had felt in a long time.
"This Is Not An 'End' It's A Beginning"
I had spent so much time viewing separation and divorce as failure — failure at being married, being an adult, and being a good mom. It was amazing to realize that this wasn't just my marriage ending, it was the beginning of something new; something I hoped would be great for all of us.
"Why Didn't I Do This Sooner?"
I, honestly, spent way too much time beating myself up over not having the courage to leave my marriage sooner. I was so afraid of single parenthood. You guys, I stayed with my ex for over four years because I was afraid to leave, afraid of doing it alone, and afraid of screwing up my kids. It turns out, in many ways, single parenthood was a heck of a lot easier than co-parenting with my ex.
"We Can Do This"
Telling myself "we can do this," was part realization and part wishful thinking. I gave myself a serious pep talk each night after the kids were in bed and I could be alone with my thoughts. One day, I actually believed it. It felt awesome.
"Don't Be Afraid"
It was so scary to embark on this new adventure as a badass single mom. To be perfectly honest, part of the reason I left was because I was afraid of my husband, afraid for myself, and afraid for my kids. Leaving was scary, sure, but staying was scarier.
"What Should I Do Now?"
There's something really freeing about realizing that you are in the driver's seat of your life and your future. I was finally able to move on and move forward. I started to dream again, and about the best possible future. If I closed my eyes I could see myself, and my kids, happy and healthy.
"I Deserve Happiness"
I was finally able to admit that I deserved happiness. As much as I focused on creating a happy home for my kids, my happiness mattered, too. After all, f I didn't take care of myself, who would care for my kids?
"My Kids Deserve Stability"
My kids deserved stability, not parents who fought all of the time. They also deserved to come home to a happy home full of love, and not feel the stress of a failing marriage. As a single mom, I was finally able to provide them that.
"This Is So Weird"
I was married for over a decade. It was so weird to be the only adult making decisions. It was also pretty freaking amazing to be in charge of my own life and happiness and to not feel like I needed to constantly pretend that everything was OK when it really wasn't.
Once I got past the shame and guilt of leaving my ex-husband, and the shame of being a single mom (and believe me, there was so much guilt and shame), I realized that I was free. Free of him and free to raise my children in a peaceful way and free to be myself and the kind of parent I hoped to be. That was so awesome.
"Everything Is Gonna Be Alright"
When my daughter was a newborn and things got rough in my marriage, I would sing her the song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. I was partly singing to her while I paced the floor, and partly singing it to myself as a pep talk of sorts. When I left my ex, it became a theme song, "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright." I kept on singing until, one day, I found myself believing the words.
Later on, they totally came true. I realized that leaving my partner was the best thing for my kids and for myself. I am so glad I did it, and we have the life we love now.