It’s been about five months since I separated from my abusive husband.
At first, the thought of raising a child by myself was terrifying.
My parents co-parented until I was seven years old.
I could understand that they weren’t together as a couple but I knew they both worked hard to coordinate pickups, drop-offs, doctor’s appointments, holidays, and more.
I never thought I would be so envious of that kind of communication.
I hired a business coach back in March. Each session was an incentive for me to push more with my copywriting business. I took a leap of faith and applied for a full-time copywriter position at an advertising agency in Minneapolis. When I got the job, I felt elated.
I wanted to celebrate with my husband, but he only brought hurt to the conversation. He didn’t want to give me my props. He didn’t want to do anything positive. In fact, everything turned south really fast the day before I started my job.
We ended up fighting and I kicked him out.
I had to bring my son Chris to my first day at my new job because I had no backup babysitter. I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to my husband’s family.
I felt alone.
I had tolerated so much abuse for so long and even convinced myself that I was happy. Even though I really, really wasn’t. I was tired. My stomach constantly in knots. Headaches, nightmares, anxiety, all of it.
Luckily, my first day on the job was only paperwork and a tour of the office. We weren’t doing a hybrid situation yet so everything was still work from home.
But when it came time to come back to the office, I had to find daycare for Chris.
I got some help from my ex, but it became very obvious that Chris has special needs and would need more one-on-one care. I feared what that would mean for my mental health and my financial health. My ex wasn’t going to call up different daycares. I had to do it all.
As time went on, tensions between me and my ex grew and I started to get more serious about setting boundaries. He was already facing charges for strangling me back in February. The judge put a DANCO (Domestic Abuse No Contact Order) in place so my ex could not contact me.
I made it clear to him that I would not accept any of his money. I closed joint accounts and took his name off of everything. Car insurance, cell phone carrier, bank accounts, you name it. My bills went down a considerable amount. The proof was in the numbers: I’m much better off without him.
I even found an affordable in-home daycare through Facebook.
I enjoy what I do at work. I get to write every day and work with a team of wacky weirdos just like me. I have little time for freelancing and side projects, but that’s OK. I’m doing more than enough.
Still, I can’t help but feel like since the night I was strangled, I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me. It’s normal to try and reach out to something steady and supportive on the way down. But what if everything you’re grabbing onto is unstable and shaky?
I have been working tirelessly to build a support system from the group up. I tried turning to my family but I just couldn’t. It’s not because of the physical distance (I’m in Minnesota and they’re in Texas).
It’s the emotional distance.
I see the therapist who gave me and my soon-to-be ex-husband marriage counseling because I know she had important context. She continues to support me through the separation and now, the divorce. It was through our sessions that I realized my family will not fulfill my emotional needs. They didn’t as a child, and they will not now. As a grown woman, I sought out some not-so-great ways to meet my emotional needs. Hence my three-year marriage to an emotionally unavailable person.
I also hired a life coach. And a divorce attorney. Even though I’ve worked hard to save up money and budget all my expenses, it still hurts to see much go into something so painful. But there’s something beautiful to all of this. Being able to hit the reset button and find a new appreciation for my freedom. I’m coming out of this a lot better than I thought I would. I have a job that allows me to take care of myself and my son. I know that my work needs to be done from the inside out.
So I want to make sure I dedicate time to do the things I love. Like writing, studying languages, and dancing. I want to show myself more grace. I want to take some days off of work and have self-care days. Going to the spa, watching movies, trying out new eating places.
I tried “getting back out there” with online dating but it just made me frustrated. It’s time to make room for myself, not try to accommodate someone else’s wants. I’m doing my best. It’s not easy. But I know that if I’m thriving, I can be a better parent for my son. I’m tired of living my life in survival mode. I want to embrace who I am and be free.