If you are a woman, your life is continuously under some sort of a scanner. A mother's every move is viewed in HD. To this you add the fact that you are a divorced single mother, and every person thinks they have the right to examine your life with a microscope, and, of course, pass judgment. Suddenly every person you don't know is an expert on you and your child's life, and the people that do know you consider it their foremost right to tell you how everything you are doing is wrong. That is the life I live, and do so happily and with pride. It is not a bad life, but there are a few confessions I would like to make.
"Even before my marriage crashed and burned, I was his only parent. I was raising the boy alone in a hostile environment."
About my son
When a woman is expecting a child, her priorities and her entire world changes. The same happened to me too. Unfortunately, I experienced this phase all by myself and I was still married then. When I would go for lab tests and checkups, with no one accompanying me, I was subject to a lot of uncomfortable stares from the staff of the lab. I guess the lab tech sensed something was wrong the first time and eventually managed to ask me the question that was niggling at her. "Do you want to keep it?" Years of experience might have made it easy for her to read people, or maybe it was just sheer coincidence. But it was a valid question and I believe it made me sure about the change to come. When I answered "Yes" in a heartbeat, I was as confident then as I am now that it was the best decision I ever made.
About consequences, responsibilities and hardships
Even before my marriage crashed and burned, I was his only parent. I was raising the boy alone in a hostile environment. We did not have a kind word, or a helping hand, we never got a smile, so wasn't I a Single Mother even then? Soon I decided that my son does not need hostility in his life, and that he needs smiles and love and joy around him. I decided that he needs to be around people that genuinely want him there. I decided to end the legal bindings that were tying us down. I decided after considering all the factors involved, and deducing all the eventualities possible. I decided to walk out, with him. I decided that we needed to be happy. I chose to move out and move on.
At first I heard a lot of, "but it sure is hard raising him without a father, He needs a father." Or worse yet some called him a liability -- a wrong decision. To those people who don't get it, I have this to say: He is the reason I have a life. If it were not for him, I would have not wanted to live and breathe freely. I was taking abuse in the name of conforming to societal norms, with the hope that one day things would change. My son made me realise that I have to be the change I wanted to see in my life. He was a catalyst that eventually led me to a life that was unfettered and independent. Following my heart and pursuing my dreams, trying to strive to get better everyday are all the qualities I learnt from my son.
About my growth
I really only wanted to wallow in self pity and stay there. It was difficult to realise that no one was going to help me stand up. Eventually I learnt to pick myself up piece by piece and get up. I began to understand myself better because no one around me could. I turned to people for advice but they weren't able to help. They could never understand that even though it was a bad relationship, it still was two years of my life, two years where I had invested my heart and soul in trying to make the best of what I had.
"I was taking abuse in the name of conforming to societal norms, with the hope that one day things would change."
I learnt not to feel sorry for myself. More than half the people I knew were doing that for me and it did not feel good. I learnt to believe in myself and what it means to truly be confident and face the world with my head held high. I also know how hard it was to stand up for what I believed in, when the people were branding me selfish. Through that the only thing that kept me strong is the belief that I am the only one that knows what is right for me and my son (until he starts thinking for himself -- then it will be a whole new ball game).
I learnt the value of pursuing my dreams, my talents, of happiness, of friends and friendships, of trust and of confidence. Some bad things in life end up being good for you after all.
I had the backing of an amazing family who refused to feel sorry for me (they still refuse to). That definitely made my life easier. I did not have to worry about home, shelter, food and loneliness. It does take a strong family to stand by you and a decision that most people around you are questioning behind your back.
Today my son is happy, healthy and does not miss what he never had, and people still don't get it? Yes it is hard, but not for the reasons you think. It is hard work because it means I am spending double the time with him, double the effort. But it is also double the joy and love -- unmatched unequivocal Love. Neither one of us is alone, or unhappy. We have a home to live in, and a family that loves us. Our life is full of people who are happy to be around us. Family that loves us, what more can I ask for?
You'd think the friends you have had for years and have grown up with would understand you better. For most of the time yes, but in some really heart-breaking cases I realised that I had gathered around me, a bunch of fickle minded people, who I had to let go of. What I finally have found are friends that are proud of the person I am. And these are the people who are a part of my life and my son's life today and who will be there forever.
"[My son] gives me the most important thing in life: he gives me hope -- a hope not just for a future but a better life."
Having said so many negative things about the way society reacted, I also found that not everyone in society looked at divorce as something bad. It did not make a single iota of difference to them as to whether I was married or not. I have learnt that the people who value me for me and not for a relationship status are my true friends and well wishers.
About loneliness and second chances
Does it get lonely? Hell yes it does. Do I regret making such a decision? No never. Life has given me a rare second chance that I don't want to waste. So I will do everything necessary to make full use of it, love myself and make me a priority. To anyone who wants to be a part of my life in whatever capacity -- understand this. I really get why you are concerned. But you never had to stand where I did, nor have you faced what I have. So stop judging and trying to tell me what is right.
People who are truly happy to have me in their life know, realise and appreciate me for who I am and the people who matter to me. My son is my responsibility, my biggest one. He is my confidence and my pride and joy. I call him my inspiration, my reason, my strength; he is all that and so much more. He gives me the most important thing in life: he gives me hope -- a hope not just for a future but a better life.