Becoming a single parent, through separation, divorce and whatever sad shape or form it takes, is nine times out of ten excruciatingly painful. Unless you have an intentional set up for solo parenting, single and shared weekend parenting is ordinarily the poor uncle of a plan B -and generally speaking, no one likes a plan B.
You get the helpful (and very regular) voices who insightfully observe, ‘you get to have all this time to yourself’ ‘how nice to have space’ ‘do they pay maintenance’, ‘was it amicable’, ‘do you communicate about the children’s schooling’? Now don’t get me wrong, these are usually loved ones and dear mates who mean really really well – however COME ON…these comments are so ill observed! Not noticing the recycling piles of empties mounting up, hear the yelps of tears and screaming pain in the silence of no children ‘around your feet’, feel the reminder of the lego left out intentionally to step on to assure you they are coming back to play, or hear the coughs in the night that aren’t there tucked in their beds with their cuddlys.
Pain without boundaries
Some say forget until it’s your turn. Some say distract. Some say shag it out. Some ignore and send nothing into the void.
I say: today I’m sitting here. Amidst the noise of life as it passes through me and I am recognising just how much space there is, eons of it! Absent of the familiar noises shouting the loudest and grappling for attention, my hand and the frequent snack cupboard rummaging. There is no value you can put on time with your children and it burns when it’s not your ‘turn’. Not always granted, but mainly, mostly and often – it HURTS. Whether you are the ‘main’ carer, the ‘weekender’ or the ‘when possible’ and ‘not today matey’ parent there is a huge chasm of quiet that surrounds us when our loved ones are not with us. The empty, emptying, lost or broken nest. The pain seems to hold no respect for busy fun and ‘this will be great’ events.
This grieving, for something that will actually return (in time) creates an odd limbo. A liminal space which sends us off into spiral of potential – yet they return and within 40 minutes normality is resumed. Our Ego rests. How do we continue to manage such pain, in a secure and stable way to forge forward for both ourself and our ‘new look’ family set up?
I remember someone old and wise telling me that having children feels like your heart is living outside you. It’s so true. Part of you as a Mother and a Father is now in the World – living breathing, being and growing – as independently and spirited as you and I.
As is the case with all of nature, once it breaks free from a concept into an action it moves from conception, to growing and developing into the World. Growing and blooming into a social being in their own right. So actually is the question of ‘how we manage being a single parent’ more about how we navigate the waters following the ship wreck of a family break up. Is working through the shock and loss of your family set up, screaming the pain of that which you envisioned would be a forever, overcome much more slowly and deliberately focussed with compassion for time and space? Similar to a grief, loss and bereavement. A style, pace and graceful journey as unique as you are; and as individually patterned as each child we nurture into this World.
Moving through the multitude of cyclical healing layers, on some days finding yourself awoken with slightly less mourning and a little less lacking or emotionally knotted. I’m not sure I’ll ever ‘get used’ to it, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to remember what full time parenting is like! Given how much you invested in your relationship (dating, moving in, marriage plus plus plus) and original family conception and growth time (9months plus) I reckon the grieving time needs at least similar in energetic and emotional input, what say you?
So single parent, f*cking cry it out. Scream it out here and now. Find your tribe to be really authentically heard. Avoid the busy places where the silence of your children is so noticeable. Or go to them. Go through leaning into the pain. Take the day as it comes, each and every step knowing that the other side of it gets you closer to another layer of healing, for you and for them too.
It takes a village
Remembering that your children are building the future – building a strong relationship with their whole family. A wider family that is no longer part of yours but it is theirs – always will be. The whole of their family; it’s vital. A lifeline of love codes for their life, and their DNA, ancestral journeying. It’s not easy, but it’s imperative – for love. For love to win. Beyond the dark pain. Grace beyond any separation.
Therapy invites a space for holding you where you are at on your healing journey with separation. We harness your energies to allow you space to find what you need in whatever void you are met with. Seeking a space where you can be heard, being heard in your grief, and heard in your loss.
We travel through your therapy one step at a time in order for you to do the next best thing. Because the next best thing for your heart, the one that beats inside of you, is the thing that leads to your heart led intuition. Allowing you to heal, grow, develop and bloom into being the most loving, peaceful and radiant version of you.
If you would like to hear more about the work I offer get in touch, My healing approaches include One to One Psychotherapeutic Counselling and EcoPsychotherapy in Bexhill, East Sussex and Online via Zoom.