There have been so many times in my life when I have heard someone say “it wasn’t how I planned it!” I’m saying it now… because nothing in my life is how I would have ever envisaged it to be…
If we go right back in time to the turn of the century, I didn’t ever plan on having children. It held no appeal to the teenage me. With that said though, and the notion that children choose their parents, I CAN believe that I was actually meant to be a mum.
I also never planned to raise my children as a single mum.
And, as for the idea of falling in love with a man twice my age? Yes, I would have laughed at myself and queried which drugs I ‘had been taking (not to mention how many I had actually taken).
The emotions of separation
It’s a peculiar thing really, thinking about how differently I would have planned my life if I had thought to plan it at all. Actually, I hadn’t given it any real consideration by the time I found myself wandering the path I have now travelled.
The life I have created for myself is one that has phenomenal pressures and burdens. However, there’s always going to be a way of making the most of it, and making it work in MY favour.
At the start of this most recent chapter, I felt guilt, relief, sadness and a myriad of other emotions. I felt guilt for the children, I grieved for the future there would never be, as a nice, normal family. There was also relief that it was over and excitement for the future.
The biggest, and perhaps most unsettling emotion I felt though, was shame. I felt my cheeks burn with it each time I admitted I was a failure. Every time I told someone I couldn’t save my marriage, I felt I was putting an oversized flashing arrow above my head.
Over the first weeks, I came to realise that the shame I felt wasn’t because I felt ashamed. The shame was a perception, projected by society, the burning shame of raising children in a “broken home“.
It’s not a broken home
I now realise that my children are not growing up in a broken home. They have a happier Mum, and are, as a result, happier themselves.
The home they had prior to the separation was broken. It was full of negative energy and emotions that were far more damaging than living with one happy parent and having contact with another.
The ‘nice, normal family‘ I grieved over is a social construction, and one that does not reflect the reality of many. What is normal anyway, and who taught me what normal looks like?
Almost 8 months after the separation I can honestly say that I made the right decision. The tension has dissipated (unless it’s chore time for the kids of course), the children are happier, (See comment in brackets above) and I am ME again (well, getting there at least).
The last year has been monumental for me. I have assessed the direction of my life and altered its course. Much of this journey of self-discovery has been guided by what some would call fate.
Fate isn’t something I previously would have given airtime but it’s the best way to describe the events of the last 13 Months.
Thirteen, may be unlucky for some but its a number I have become attached to… after all 1+3=4. The number 4 to me, indicates a period of calm reflection, contemplation, solid foundations. You have discovered the idea, made the choice, and watched it grow.
Anyway, I digress…
The beginning of the cycle
Early April 2018, I lost a very dear friend… not through death but through a divergence of paths.
I had begun to ask for change but the universe didn’t answer how I expected it to. In what I thought was some cruel joke at the time, the person I thought I needed and clung to like a leech was catapulted in a different direction. I was upset, I was angry. I felt confused and lost.
However, as the days wore on I began to experience relief, a weight had been taken off my shoulders. The friendship had become toxic and co-dependent. It was time to take back control and find my own way.
Finding my way to freedom
As the fog of the loss began to lift I could see the way forward… Being ‘mum’ just wasn’t enough for me anymore. Something bigger was waiting.
Just over a month later, I set up my business, The Happy VA. It may not be the best way to start a business – on the spur of the moment – but I felt I had been offered an olive branch…
The idea popped into my head and I ran with it – not quite a streak across a football pitch – but within 12 hours of the initial idea, I had my business website up and running.
If I am honest, I didn’t expect to achieve anything near what I have achieved. The only thing I did know was that I was only guaranteed to fail if I didn’t give it a go.
It went better than expected… and has gone from strength to strength.
The pieces that just fell into place
As time wore on, each client became pieces of a much larger puzzle, and being a VA just seemed to fit.
Over the last year I have had the privilege of working with a variety of different people but the one thing that stands out about them all is that they each know who they are.
It wasn’t until the end of the year that I received a metaphorical slap across the cheeks and realised the enormity of the journey I am on.
The meeting of the minds
There are people you meet who leave next to no impression… but then there are those who shatter every foundation you have. Last November, I met the latter.
Everything fell around me, every truth I thought I knew was crumbled. I was stripped bare.
Over the course of the 1 hour Skype consultation I discovered a soul I have known before.
As my marriage took a nosedive from possibly repairable to the dark depths of no going back, he was there. He showed me the way.
A beautiful friendship developed, a meeting of minds. I rediscovered my passion for things I had forgotten I loved.
By the end of December, Jim had moved out. It was amicable (still is) and is the best thing for both of us, not to mention the kids.
Co-parenting and self-discovery
Separation doesn’t come with a manual but if it did I am sure it would emphasise the need for an amicable separation and, if there are children involved, to try and co-parent.
It’s something we have both been working hard on, and we seem to be working it out.
Internally, I have been assimilating the journey of the last year… Since the beginning of January I have discovered so much about myself. I have been revelling in the eternal quest for knowledge and rediscovering the joy that can be found in living, not just being alive.
As much progress as I have already made – this journey is really only just beginning.
Welcome back to Beth in a Box… a journey along a different path.