A few years ago, the inevitable happened. I became a single mother. I say it to be inevitable because in my case, it was. I never thought I’d be a single mom. I never thought I’ve be in the situation that life put me in, I really didn’t. I thought I had some sort of idea on how my life would be.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”-John Lennon
Life happens to the single mom. We didn’t want this life, it sort of chose us. And though it has been a tough road for me, and still is, things are as my Uncle Raul says, “good and getting better”. But it wasn’t always this way.
I wished that there had been a sort of weaning period-so I can sort of ease into the life of being single again, dating, and balancing the life of being a mother and father, an artist, writer, performer and jewelry designer. Instead I was thrown into this. I was thrown into a life I never wanted, never planned on having or leading.
I didn’t choose this life. I had plans. I had a life that I envisioned, and my dreams were crushed by life and irreconcilable differences.
I wish that I had known what I know now. I wish that in that time, I had a piece of peace.
So, I offer to those of you who are newly single moms, a few pieces of encouragement. A bit of foresight into the future, if you will.
- You CAN get through this. I know it seems impossible. I know that it often feels like your heart has left you along with the person you loved. I know that it seems as though you’ll never be happy again. You wonder: how can I move on? How can I find happiness again? Will I get through this? My answer is: yes. You can and you will. Give it time. Everyone will say this to you, and likely it will annoy the shit out of you. But they are right. Give it time. Give your heart time to heal. Be kind to yourself. Mother yourself. Cocoon yourself. Focus on the joy that your children bring you, and let all the other negative things fall by the wayside.
- Express your emotions. The way that I got through the beginnings of divorce, and custody issues, and feeling like my life was being caught in a periscope without sinking too deep into depression was by realizing that my children need me. They need me happy and healthy. They need me alive and laughing and being the mom that I know I am. So, I had to find a way to search within myself for that light. Often, when you’re in so deep, you want to let yourself sink into those emotions. I know. For me, I guess I had to find a way to express my emotions. I can’t let things just fester inside. I can’t. I’m not okay with that and neither should you be. Express those emotions within through the written word or through art. Buy yourself a cheapie cheap composition notebook and write all that shit down. Write it all down, and get it out. There’s a lot going on right now when you’re newly divorced and you sometimes talking doesn’t seem like enough. This is when you grab your journal and you write. Write it out. Don’t worry about not being a writer. You don’t have to be Sylvia Plath or Allen Ginsberg. Just grab your pen and write.
- Keep looking forward. Often times we look back, especially if you’ve been married to your ex spouse for as long as I was (12 years). It can be difficult to not bring him up in conversation, or think of the old times in fondness. There’s nothing really wrong with that. But remember to look to YOUR future. Remember that as a mother, you must continue to move forward, and make plans for yourself. What do YOU want to do with your future? In the same way that you tell your children they can be anything they want when they grow up, so can you. The sky is the limit now.
- Love yourself, before looking for love. I could write a whole post just about this alone. Look, I guess the truth is that you get to a point where you want to be loved again. You want to hear someone tell you you’re beautiful again. You want to hold hands again. For me, I was so eager to be loved again. To be held again, and told pretty things. Pretty things are important to hear, when all you’ve ever been told are ugly words that insult and hurt. And I became impatient. I guess for me, I decided that I wanted to try to just be comfortable with who I am, and just…..date myself, in a way. I went out, and lived my life, did my thing, had fun with my kids and my friends. I pampered myself. I decided to see life in a more positive way. You cannot live your life as a Grinch, not when you have children. No matter what the age, children see past your exterior. You set an example to your children through the life you lead, and they read in between the lines very well. I wanted to set a positive example to my children of what a woman is and what a woman should and could be. And so, I chose to love myself.
- It gets better. I remember hearing people say, “It’ll get better, I promise.” Honestly I wanted to choke them. I felt like I was dying inside, and you’re telling me it’ll get better? My illusion of what my future was going to be is gone, and it’s going to get better? How the fuck is that possible? But it is. It will get better. It isn’t easy, but so long as you LOVE yourself, you’re good to go.
- Focus. This is so important. Focus on the three things you need right now. For me, it was a job, love, and community. And planning to get a new car. I was recommended by friends to look into using established brokers to help negotiate the best deals for me within my budget.
Following this, I moved to NJ to have more of a sense of community. I come from a very large latin family, and I knew it was best for myself AND my kids if I moved to New Jersey. Divorce is such an emotional thing to go through, that sometimes we get scatter-brained and we will wallow in our misery. “It’s okay to be depressed about it, and cry for a minute, but let folks go.” Madea was right. Let it go, and focus on what you need to get through today, and get through tomorrow. Focus on how you’re going to pay your rent and bills instead of focusing on the asshole ex. Focus. Focus on good thoughts and positive vibrations. Why? Because whatever you believe in, is what your brain will create solutions to. Even if you don’t believe in mysticism like I do, the law of attraction is real. Focus on the positive, and focus on what you need to be happy and pay the rent and bills.
- It’s okay if you don’t know what you want right now. You don’t have to. Just focus on loving yourself, and taking care of your children, and you’ll see how eventually, you’ll start to identify what you really want in life. It’s helpful to have a way to express yourself creatively during these times. I always recommend writing because if you’re not so creative, it is an easy way to express yourself.
- You NEED your girlfriends right now. Surround yourself with strong positive women. You’re going through a lot and you need support from people who love and accept you no matter what. I will always be grateful to Liz and Grace and Leticia for all that they did for me. They did the one thing that I needed them to do: listen.
- You don’t need to know the future right now. You can go to all the fortune tellers in the world, but the truth is this: you create your future. And don’t concern yourself with that right now. Focus on loving yourself. See a theme here? Love yourself and things fall into place. I promise you that.
For me, when I started practicing these things, everything fell into place. I got a great day job, I got a car, and a tattooed man who seems to be behaving himself rather nicely (haha). But it took time. It took healing. I have my friends and my art to thank for that.
(BTW, if you are creative and are going through a creative block, let me help you with that! Click HERE for more info)
Everything will get better. I promise.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.”
? Stephen Hawking
PS. I launched my new jewelry collection! I’d love if you check it out: thelonelygypsy.com