My ex- husband and I made the decision to split before the water ran dry and we completely hated each other. So, I guess you could say we made big life decisions before we were completely ready to because, really, how much easier is it to leave someone when you can’t stand the sight of them?
Doing it that way had its benefits; we were still able communicate effectively and talk each other through some hard things — something we are both grateful for.
But nothing could have eased the fact I had to face something: After not having a job outside of the home, or earning a regular paycheck in over 13 years because we decided together I would stay home and care for our kids, I was faced with the hurdle of being financially independent.
I won’t lie — it felt uncertain and scary and downright impossible. But I didn’t have a choice. It was time to pull myself together during a pretty horrific time in my life and invest in my career again after over a decade. And the internal battle I had with myself was excruciating.
As he was packing up boxes, he said to me, “You will find a doctor or a lawyer, get married again and be just fine.”
In that moment I realized two things: One, the person who I’d known so intimately for almost two decades didn’t think I was capable of earning a decent salary on my own despite being an independent business woman when he met me.
And two, the last thing I wanted was to be with someone based on their earnings potential. I wanted to do this shit on my own even though thoughts of doubt kept sprouting through my new “I can do anything” attitude.
Could I really? Was my ex right? Did I need someone to come “save” me?
NO, I DID NOT.
Did I have days when I took myself down and told myself I couldn’t actually do this, I had nothing to offer after being out of the workforce for so long?
Yes, I did.
In fact, those thoughts passed through me every other day. For every day I felt strong and capable, there was a day I wanted nothing more than to lie on the bathroom floor in the fetal position.
Fair warning: those thoughts might not go away for a while. I still have those days (yesterday being one of them), and I’m pretty damn thankful for them because they are the fuel that forces me to slap myself and realize I am capable and I can do it.
So can you.
Standing on your own two feet after you’ve been partnered is scary as fuck; I’m not going to blow glitter up your ass here and deny that truth. There isn’t an easy thing about it.
And if you’ve chosen to stay home with your kids and put your career aside, it can bring you to the brink of staying in a relationship you don’t want to be in for security’s sake — I know.
But the freedom you get from working your ass off and being able to stand on your own two feet is more satisfying than staying, or not believing in yourself, or thinking the only way you can have the life you want is through a partner.
Cut the bullshit and believe in yourself already. Do you hear me?
Because depending on another person to provide you with something solely because you think you can’t give it to yourself is destructive. It’s false. And it’s a waste of your brain power.
Stop thinking just because you’ve never been in a situation where you have to provide for yourself and your kids on your own, you simply can’t do it now.
Is it really hard? Yes.
Will you make sacrifices, forget a ton of shit, and have nights you fall asleep at 7 p.m. on the sofa because you are so depleted? Of course.
Does it mean you can only support yourself and your children financially by sacrificing your mental health? Absolutely not.
I’m not going to lie and say you find that perfect balance — that seesaw looks different every day, and you learn to adjust to the ups and downs after countless mistakes. You ask for help. You cry in the shower. You shut down. You worry.
But this is doable — the idea you can have a career and raise a family and know every night when your head hits the pillow that you are strong and capable and you will be okay because you know how to do this and, fuck, if you can handle this, you can handle anything — there’s no match for that sense of accomplishment.
You begin to realize no matter what life throws at you, even if you partner with someone else someday who hustles just as hard as you and takes some of the pressure off, you are unbreakable.
It takes grit and determination and there will be tears and self-doubt and so much stress you’ll feel like you’re being put through a damn juicer.
But you have all that within you right now.
Take it from someone who didn’t believe in herself while her ex was packing to leave and had many sleepless nights before she got her head in the game because honestly she didn’t want to do this solo.
I know this was never the plan, but you can handle it.
Stop believing you can’t.
You got this.