I am not alone.
I kept telling myself this, and was reminded of it thanks to a baby shower gift from a friend – a small clay pocket stone, thumbprint indenting it with the phrase ‘You are not alone’ stamped in the centre with aquamarine glaze. I sometimes carried it with me, but usually I just left it on my desk, hoping that it’d vibe up the energy in my domestic space, in my life, and in my heart.
I am not sad. I was broken-hearted. But I am healing.
I’m a white (privileged) able-bodied woman in my 30s, so maybe this (my broken-heartedness) means nothing to you. I’ve not had an easy life though, if that’s any consolation. While I’m privileged because of the colour of my skin, the last 20 years of my life have been very difficult economically for me for a number of different reasons. There’ve been some good years interspersed in there at random places, mostly thanks to higher education and certain professional opportunities. But aside from that, nothing has been handed to me, and I’ve had to work very hard to get where I’m at. I am strong. I am also tired. But I realise that my experience, as tough as it has been for me over the years, may not be as tough as the experiences that other women have had. I am cognisant of my white able-bodied privilege – and I try, in my daily life and in my engagements with people and my work, to show up for social justice and advocate for people of color and for those who are disadvantaged in a variety of ways.
I live in a foreign country now, I work full time, I have some things going for me in my career. Notwithstanding my economic background, I am privileged by most standards.
Don’t really have much of a social life these days, and that is ok. I like it, actually – the not going out much. I’m more of a homebody anyway. Always have been. I just feel isolated sometimes. For obvious reasons (living in a foreign country and working full time, no friends/family around, etc.), but also for others: on top of all of that, I’m a single mom.
I’m a single mom. I never thought I’d say that. What does that even mean? It’s not at all what I envisioned for myself when I used to daydream about my future. But it’s alright. C’est la vie. I’m adaptable. I go with the flow.
I’m searching for a community.
I’ve been searching for a community since the day my ex told me he wanted nothing to do with being a father. The day he looked me in the eyes and reneged on everything he ever said to me in the lead-up to that moment when I told him I was pregnant. Prior to my pregnancy, he wanted ‘to marry’ me and ‘have kids in the next 1-2 years’. I told him I thought we should wait a little while, considering that I was still working on my Doctorate. He’d make jokes about it from time to time; anytime I thought my period was late, he’d suggest the possibility that maybe there was ‘one in the oven’. His lighthearted nature regarding a possible pregnancy made me feel at ease. Made me feel like he was solid, that we really had a future to look forward to. And then one day, there it was. The future arrived a lot quicker than either of us had anticipated. But that’s when he changed. Everything changed. He handled the situation like a teenage boy, strangely nervous and afraid to tell his friends and family. Begged me to have an abortion.
I still had fieldwork to do. I still had a Doctoral dissertation to write. But I wasn’t scared at all. Something about having a baby felt cathartic and on-time. It felt right. I thought maybe if I gave him some time, that maybe he’d come back around, come back to his senses. Come back to being that suave, solid guy I was so at ease with.
Anything but. It tore us apart. He stayed in perpetual teenage boy-land, ruled by fear. He became emotionally violent and psychologically abusive. He hated me for deciding to keep the baby, hated me for not backing down and for standing my ground. I was hormonal and sad about the way he was treating me during what was supposed to be one of the most wonderful and beautiful times of my life. Nothing made any sense. His switch-up was irrational. I tried, so hard to wrap my head around it somehow, telling myself excuses: he’s scared… give him a little time… he’ll come around after he thinks about it…it’s just fear… How could he go from telling me he wanted to get married and have a family to this?
Every time I walked down the street, I’d see couples, loving couples, couples with kids, a smiling pregnant woman with a partner holding her hand. My heart hurt. Every time I attended the breastfeeding classes and all the antenatal workshops, I was the only one without a partner. Every time I went to my prenatal appointments, the nurses and doctors would always ask me if he’d come around, if anything had changed. “Are you still planning on doing this alone then?”, they’d ask. “Yeah. Well, I mean, for now. I’m still hoping he’ll come around.” They’d always look at me like I was an abandoned puppy. They didn’t want me to get my hopes up too high. I knew that. As one nurse told me, “You know, I know this probably isn’t going to make you feel any better but, we see this all the time. It’s shit. But you’re not alone. Guys do this all the time.”
In my hormonal and extra emotional state, I waited for him. I naively and broken-heartedly hoped that maybe he’d plan something nice for Christmas, to spend the holidays with me and apologise for being such an asshole. But Christmas rolled around and he called and said he had made plans to fly home and spend the holidays with friends.
Not once, in nine months, did he ever go out of his way to come and see me. Still, I stupidly held out hope.
I’ve never felt so betrayed and… alone. My heart was so broken. I was in a foreign country and had no one to turn to. No one who understood. No real friends around. No family. No community. No other single moms. And to top it all off, it was Christmas. Then New Years.
My little one was born a few months later. I’ve been made new by the grace of God. My heart is full, and I am filled with warmth, light, and joy. No other love compares to the love I have for my child.
As hard as things have been, I wouldn’t change anything. I am right where I need to be. And I am doing this – with joy. It’s not always easy, but it is a joy and it is the greatest joy I have ever known. That being said, I am also angry. Angry for a lot of reasons. Angry for women everywhere who have had to go through anything remotely similar. Angry at our society for letting men off the hook so easily and not holding them accountable for their selfishness and irresponsibility. This needs to change.
I started this website because I want this space to be a safe place for me, and for you, to share our stories, our feelings, our hopes, and dreams. I know my story is only one in an ocean of women out there, each who have something important inside them to say. We are here to lift each other up.
Our experiences matter, regardless of the process by which we arrived at single motherhood. Strength in unity.
“Greive. So that you can be free to feel something else.”
— Nayyirah Waheed (nejma)
DONATE: Please consider a donation to help maintain this site.