Tag Archives: single

Once a Fortress, Always a Fortress

3 May

Certainty and security are never a commodity in a single mother’s life. Love and fatigue are our main resources. We live for our ability to love our children and the people who love them (and us, if possible), we love them endlessly. We strive, thanks to daily schedules that bring us to the end of the day breathless, and with an empty mind and weary heart. It is easy to receive our kindness, for we are full of empathy and compassion for anyone who has endured hardship. It is even possible to win our love. We’re used to caring for others. But it is nearly impossible to love us, fully. And even more difficult to gain our trust.

This is why, the single mother, is forever single. This sounds tragic, and maybe it is in a sense. But I don’t necessarily mean for it to be. We aren’t alone. We are surrounded by friends, family, and lovers, who care for us, help us out, listen to us, pick our little ones up from school if we’re tied up, or make love to us quietly, in the dark, after bed time. We have each other – other moms like us, who share the impossible bond of lonely togetherness, that I think only we can truly comprehend. And still, we are single. Even with boyfriends, or live-in partners. Even if we marry again.

The single mother’s heart is a fortress. It’s been penetrated and broken before, and it shall never be broken again. We will never again allow heartbreak to take us by surprise. We are prepared for any scenario, and we anticipate the worst. (We know that He is going to leave us, and we leave Him first.)

So in order to love us, to stick by us, it takes more than romance, more than companionship, more than terrific sex, more than love, more than trust. It takes endurance. It takes stubbornness. It takes a man who can bear never being given the benefit of the doubt. It takes a man who can tolerate the constant measuring and sizing up, the fear, the doubts, the half-truths, the “I love you – but”s. It takes a man who loves our hearts, along with the brick walls that surround them, walls made strong by the powerful forces of abandonment and betrayal.

It takes a man who has the patience to take apart that wall, slowly, carefully, not tearing it down, but cautiously dismantling it, one brick at a time, knowing that there is a chance that it will grow back in, like like a lizard’s tail, but wanting enough to try, hoping enough to succeed.

I am lucky to have found such a man.

And though, from time to time, I make an honest attempt to push him away, he surprises me with his acceptance of me and my story, and his willingness to take part in it.

 

 

 

On Sacrifices and Why I’m not Making Any Anymore

28 Jun

sacrifice

My friend B thinks I’m going through my twenties, only I’m doing it in my thirties, which might very well be. I started dating BD when I was 19. Back then, following my mother’s example (though it’s more than a little superficial to blame it on her) I honestly believed that being in a loving relationship meant making sacrifices. Not little ones. Not agreeing to see a movie you don’t really care for, or allowing the toilet seat to stay up without making a scene. I believed that you couldn’t get everything you wanted or needed in any relationship, and so, you had to decide what was less important to you and find someone who gave you all the rest. (There was even a time when I thought that this wisdom was something some of my single girlfriends hadn’t figured out yet and that this was why they didn’t have a boyfriend.)

In theory, this sounds reasonable. I know in my heart that Mr. Right exists only in my heart, that I will never meet a man who is so compatible with me that he knows how to meet my every need without being told what to do, and still be unpredictable at times and sweep me off my feet. But, and this is a big but, I don’t think I should be making any sacrifices anymore. Adjustments – yes, sacrifices – no.

Very possibly the word sacrifices means more to me than it does to anyone else, I suppose it’s common to say that a mother makes sacrifices for her children for example. I want to redefine the word here, so you can understand what it means to me and why it raises such a strong emotional reaction in me. A sacrifice to me means doing something that strongly contradicts who you are, doing it despite feeling a strong objection to it, despite knowing that it will make you unhappy, and doing it because you believe it will benefit someone else, whose needs are more important than yours.

One might say that my career isn’t developing as quickly as it could have, or that I’m not making as much money as I could have if I didn’t have a child. But that’s not a sacrifice, that’s a choice. I would much rather spend time with my son in the afternoon than make more money or advance in my career. Had I decided to be a stay at home mom and not work at all, that would have been a sacrifice, because I love my job, and I love that I have somewhere to go where I can be valued as a professional. It would have been wrong for me to stay at home all day with my son, because it would have been a sacrifice, and he could not have benefited of it.

When I was in a relationship with BD, who had to move abroad for work and I left my job, my family and friends and moved with him, it was my choice, it was not a sacrifice. I was excited about my new adventure. I was ready for a change. But when things got bad there, when I was homesick and depressed and did not get out of bed some days, and felt like my life was worthless, and got a job I didn’t like just to get out of the house, that was a sacrifice. And it was a mistake to make it, I should have left BD there and come home.

This is just one example, our relationship was in fact full of sacrifices on my part. Sacrifices which lead, eventually to the death – yes, death – of several important “Me”s. I can’t blame BD for it, because he didn’t know. I wasn’t clear in stating the things that I wanted. Because I believed they were less important than the things that he wanted. Because I believed that making sacrifices made me a better person.

Now that we are apart, the dead “Me”s have begun their resurrection and they are hungry and thirsty and know no boundaries and they are raising havoc. It’s so exhausting that I had to sleep for 11 hours last night and I still feel tired.