Emotional well-being, divorce & separation

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. 

emotional well-being

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.

Gingerbread – fact sheet on looking after your emotional health.

This was brilliant and contained loads of really useful contact information about emotional well-being for single parents.  My top recommendation!

Sorting out Separation

There is lots of advice on here about separation and divorce to help you deal with relationship breakdown. 

The Parent Connection

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.  

Modern Dad Pages
The Twinkle Diaries
And then the fun began...

29 Comments

  1. Hannah
    May 19, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    I’m glad you’ve made the decision. I got divorced in 2007. It was horrible but counseling made the difference between me just managing to hold it together and falling apart completely.

    Wish you all the best.

    • thesingleswan
      May 19, 2015 / 10:15 pm

      thank you for your support. That is really nice of you. I hope that counselling will help too if only to enable me to get things off my chest. Take care. xx

  2. May 19, 2015 / 9:36 pm

    Great post!! I think your situation will help lots of people!!

    An dont stress, your not alone. Just because no one knows who you are, doesn’t mean you can have friends on here 🙂

    Hope the counselling works 🙂

    Lx
    Lisa recently posted…Mannie MondayMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 19, 2015 / 10:13 pm

      Thanks Lisa,

      That is really sweet of you. I appreciate it.

      xx

  3. May 19, 2015 / 10:47 pm

    It would appear that you are very emotional. I agree that counseling will help you better understand those emotions. Take it from someone that has kept the confidence of counseling for years now. Thank you for your post. Good Luck
    Ken recently posted…MilestonesMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 20, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      Thanks Ken. I appreciate your support. I think the counselling will help a lot. We’ll see. Take care.

  4. May 20, 2015 / 1:30 am

    Those are great things that you must do for yourself! Keep the post handy in case you falter (I would), and reread! You can do it!!

    • thesingleswan
      May 20, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      Thank you Christina, I appreciate your comment. Good tip about keeping the post handing. I ought to make a commitment to update you all on my progress with my manifesto in 3 months time. thanks again for reading. xx

  5. May 20, 2015 / 9:37 am

    Great post and a wonderful idea to get counselling. I wonder if you are accommodating because it was you who made the decision to separate? I only ask because that’s exactly how it was with me. I let my ex get away with murder (not literally) because I felt so guilty that I was the catalyst for the split. Good luck with your healing – you will get there. It takes a bit of time but you will be happier in the long term. Sending lots of love. xxx
    Lottie Lomas recently posted…The accidentMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 20, 2015 / 8:58 pm

      Thanks Lottie, I really appreciate it. I think you are right. I probably am being more accommodating because I am the one who made the decision to split. He reminds me of this frequently and is apparently intent on being the victim. He agrees that we don’t love each other. He has said that he doesn’t love me, but he still thinks we should get married anyway – bonkers! I am happier already – I feel that a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I will feel much better again once we have moved out of the house. Thanks for your support. xxxx

  6. May 20, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Your blog is one of the most honest blogs I’ve ever come across – probably because you’re anonymous – and it’s great! You’re definitely good at writing! 😉 xx #twinklytuesday
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…Working mamma My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 20, 2015 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks Emma,

      That is really nice of you to say. I hope you will keep reading.

      xxx

    • thesingleswan
      May 21, 2015 / 6:57 pm

      Jenny,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate it. You are right. It takes a while to realise who you are and what makes us ourselves. We spend our lives trying to improve or be a bit more like this or like that when really we’d all be a lot healthier and happier if we just are who we are.

      Thanks again. #thetruthabout

      x

    • thesingleswan
      May 21, 2015 / 7:00 pm

      Thank you. I appreciate your support. It is definitely the right decision even though it is a bit tough on occasion. #WellbeingWednesday

  7. May 21, 2015 / 5:23 pm

    It’s so important to stay true to you. I hope I don’t speak out of turn, but your now ex sounds controlling and shallow. I also bottle feelings up, well that was until I started a blog. Since I grew older too, I seem to be more capable of talking about how I feel. The problem I have in partnerships is I will take and take until I can’t take enough and I will accommodate until the cows come home and then I blow if there is no change. I wrote an open letter to a lovely lady – feel free to read it and I hope it rings true to you. It’s really important that you have acknowledged that council could help. It shows strength in my eyes as you know there may be something to fix. Lugging bitter feelings around isn’t going to be good for anyone. I have to breath deep and bite my tongue a lot with the girls dad – it’s like dealing with a child quite frankly. I look forward to reading more from you. It’s tough, but you will get through this and come out bigger, better, stronger and still an amazing mummy to your boy. Thank you so much for linking up to #WellbeingWednesday 🙂 xxx
    Kat | Beau Twins recently posted…My Captured Moment 21/05/2015My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 21, 2015 / 7:28 pm

      Hi Kat,

      Thanks so much for your comment. You are not speaking out of turn and it is really interesting that you chose the words shallow and controlling to describe him. I think you are right. I have felt controlled and that I have needed to be compliant for a while. Compliance is not a word that anyone should feel the need to use within the context of a relationship.

      I know how you feel about taking the s**t for ages and then it gets to a point when the scales tip, when you are pushed over and it becomes crystal clear that you can’t take it any more. This is what happened with me.

      What is great about the blogging community is that there are some really wise women out there who have told their stories through their blogs. I can only aspire to be one of them. If you haven’t discovered them already (you probably have!) then teacuptoria, thesecretdivorcee and oldersinglemum are my favourites. They have bucket loads of good advice for recently single Mums like you and me. I separated with my now ex in mid-February.

      Thank you for hosting #WellbeingWednesday. You have got some really good blogs on here.

      Take care and I hope to hear from you soon.

      xx

      PS. I will take a look at your open letter to a lovely lady. We have a lot in common. xx

  8. May 21, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    I think you’re being very wise and sensible Pen – counselling can only be a good thing, as can the therapy afforded you by indulging in your passions. It must be so hard still living under the same roof, I don’t think I could do it! I also find it hard to imagine spending time without my sons even though I sometimes dream of having that freedom! It’s not the same when its taken out of your hands. Keep strong – things will definitely get better Xx #thetruthabout
    thenthefunbegan recently posted…If…My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 21, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you. I cannot wait to have my own place. I will have the biggest party. Well no, actually I won’t because my son will be in bed, but I might drink a bottle of champagne all on my own and celebrate the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. I can’t wait to just focus on me and my boy for a bit. xxx

  9. May 21, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    Hi there. I separated from my husband in December. I know what you are going through. I’m about to go to sleep but I just wanted to say I’ve been following your blog since a friend told me about it. We need to stick together!!! Are u on Twitter? I couldn’t find u on there on my phone. xxxx Much love. Abi

    • thesingleswan
      May 21, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Hi Abi,

      Thanks for your comment and thank you so much for following my blog. We do need to stick together – you are quite right. I am on twitter @thesingleswan. It would be great to hear from you.

      I hope you are doing okay. Sending loads of hugs. xx

  10. May 22, 2015 / 10:35 am

    Great post, and I hope that the counselling really helps you, and I think it’s great that you have set goals. I think you are right that you have to deal with the way things are in term of changes but I think that it sounds like you do really need to be a little bit more demanding (not in a horrible way) but in a fair way. Your son deserves to have a happy mum, and more than that you deserve to be happy. I hope through counselling you can find the extra strength (from reading your posts I already can see you have lots of strength) to make the changes that will make you happier – like having your son for some of the ‘wedding weekend’ (or getting a whole weekend with him either before or after – whichever compromise works best ) as it sounds like this is one of the things that is making you unhappy.
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…WOTW – HugsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 22, 2015 / 6:58 pm

      Hi Jenni, Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. I hope the counselling helps too. I’ll let you all know how it goes. Take care and have a great weekend. xx

  11. May 23, 2015 / 10:34 pm

    These are wonderful resources, and I’m really proud of you for taking the step into counseling.

    I, like you, am conflict-averse, so I tried to be as accommodating as possible when my ex and I divorced, after 8 years of marriage and 9 years together. I gave him the house outright instead of asking for my contribution to the equity we had. I never insisted that he exercise court-ordered visitation, and always made excuses to our then-6-year-olds about why Daddy didn’t see them more often. When he couldn’t be bothered to figure out with his parents when they could see the children, I worked with them to arrange for visits.

    And then last year happened. He married a third woman in 3 years and she got pregnant. He suddenly decided to be Daddy again, and had the children visit in the summer for the first time… and refused to return them when his time was up. He was so used to my just accommodating him that I think he was shocked that I actually got a lawyer and fought back. After 6 long months apart, a judge restored the children to my care. In addition, his wife, seeing him lying on the stand and realizing how much he’d misled her, left him.

    Now he’s taking me back to court because I’ve insisted that he give the 6 weeks of summer that the court orders him to his parents, instead of the 8 weeks they want.

    All of that is to stay, make a habit of standing up for your rights. You owe your son that.

    Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday. Thank you for blogging. And thank you for taking the step of walking away from a loveless relationship. Staying does no one any good. I’m proof of that.
    Sadia recently posted…Toddler Thursday: Crazy Little Thing Called SleepMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 24, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      Sadia,

      Thank you so much for your comment and I apologise for taking so long to reply – it was diverted to my spam for some reason. Often I just delete all of it, but fortunately I had a look through this evening.

      I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for you when your ex did not return your children after a stay with him. I struggle when my ex partner takes our 9 month old baby overnight and I am confident that he will bring him back. My ex is not a bad person or malicious, I just believe that he is inherently selfish and totally incapable of seeing things from anyone’s point of view but his own. Having read your comment, I have to say that I could not say the same about your ex – apologies if I am speaking out of turn. Well done you for taking your ex to court. I sincerely hope that your kids are okay. It must have been tremendously tough for all of you.

      Thank you for your support and words of encouragement. It is comments like yours that give me strength and make me proud to be part of this blogging community.

      Take care of yourself.

      Sending big hugs to you and your kids.

      xxx

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