Emotional well-being is not the absence of emotions, but it is your ability to understand the value of your emotions and use them to move your life forward in positive directions.
Hi, if you haven’t read my blog before, I am a newly single mum. I am in my mid-30s and I have a son who is under one. You can read more on my About Me page. Today I have been thinking about my emotional well-being.
My partner and I separated in mid-February (my choice). We were due to be married in June. We don’t love each other and I can’t spend the rest of my life with someone who I don’t love. We are still living together until the house sale goes through. I returned to work full time about a month ago. At the moment we are dividing up the weekends and have one day each with our son. Since returning to work, I have gone from spending every hour of every day with my son, to snatching short periods of time before I go to work and in the evenings before bed. Seeing him so little has had a real impact on my emotional well-being. I am really struggling. Last week, because of the way we divided our weekends, I spent seven whole days without spending real time with my son. I told my ex-partner I was struggling. He said “that’s just the way it is”. Unfortunately, he is right. That is the way it is. I need to get used to it.
I am not very good at talking about things, at getting them off my chest. I never have been. I am the kind of person who hates conflict, hates ill feeling and will run away from problems rather than addressing them head on. This means that I am hiding in my room every evening whilst my ex hogs the TV in the sitting room. This means that I am being very accommodating about when my ex-partner can take our son. He is taking him to stay with his ex-wife for the weekend in a couple of weekends time for example. He is also taking him for the entirety of what was to be our wedding weekend because he has family coming over from the US who want to meet our son. I don’t think this is fair.
I know that I need to be more demanding and less accommodating. I need to learn to stand up to my ex-partner because I will never be able to run away from the issues. As much as it pains me, our lives are forever entwined because we have a son and we are both his parents.
Today, I made a big decision. I have decided to get some counselling.
I have never really thought about counselling before. I guess I always thought it was something that more emotional people did. I don’t display my emotions. I am always very calm and measured, very predictable in my response. There is a danger here, and a danger that I feel is looming, and that is that I will bottle everything up and it will eat away at me. I won’t appreciate or accept the stress that I am under and the impact that this stressful situation is having on me until it drowns me, until I finally go under.
I did some research and these are some things that I am going to do and to think about in addition to my counselling. I owe it to myself and more importantly to my son to look after my emotional well-being. My emotional well-being is strongly related to the future emotional well-being of my son. This is my manifesto:
1. I am going to talk about my feelings.
Now, I am not doing too badly here. I have been blogging and blogging has helped me immensely over the last month or so. I have at least managed to articulate some of my feelings and get them out of my system. I have been speaking to my family and they have been a great support, but problems are still building up without me necessarily realising it. I am hoping that the counselling will help me to speak about, rather than just write about, some of these issues. I think there is something about hearing yourself talk about a problem rather than just writing it down.
2. I am going to do something that I am good at.
I need to do something where I am not just a Mum, not just someone’s ex-partner and not just an employee. I need to do something where I am just me. You may have noticed from my blog that I love art. Well, I don’t just go to art galleries to take my mind off missing my son when he is with his Dad (see my Baby Goes to Daddy collection), I also paint. I also take photographs and I write stories. This is me. This is what I am good at.
3. I am going to accept who I am.
I am not the life and soul of the party. I never have been and I never will be. I used to wish that I was more of an extrovert, more bubbly, more talkative and more socially energetic. My now ex-partner used to say he’d like me to be more of all of the above. I am not though and I am never going to be. I am who I am and I like who I am. Being slightly quieter and an introvert means that you have fewer but probably deeper friendships. I am not a social butterfly, but it is these deeper friendships that are more important to me.
4. I am going to meet people who have gone through similar struggles.
Since starting my blog, I have ‘met’ lots of people online who have been through similar situations to me. I am not alone. I will never meet them in person because I blog anonymously, but the people who I have met through my blog are proving to be a really good support network. Since my separation, it is also amazing how many people who I have met in the ‘real’ world who are single parents or who have been through a divorce. Very few people lead a ‘text-book’ life – whatever that may be.
Resources: some websites you might find useful.
This was brilliant and contained loads of really useful contact information about emotional well-being for single parents. My top recommendation!
There is lots of advice on here about separation and divorce to help you deal with relationship breakdown.
This site focusses on parenting together after separation. There is a Sorting Out Separation web app which is part of the Government’s Help and Support for Separated Families initiative. It is quite useful.