I have been thinking a lot about the blog that I wrote yesterday, and about my process after splitting with my young one’s dad. It was almost eight years ago, and it has been one of the most transformative periods of my life.
Initially, after the break up it occurred to me that I would have to start sorting out the rubbish bins. It had been a job that I had managed to avoid whilst living at home, do possibly twice ever whilst living in student accommodation and almost never whilst young one’s dad was in residence. In every house there is usually a division of labour, and bins have never been on my list. A few years ago bins got super exciting in my area (mass recycling), but even before that I discovered that bins were not quite as hideous as I had imagined. If they are kept small and tidy. Big bins still make me feel somewhat queasy. But in terms of learning to cope with my new situation of being a single parent, starting with the physical things was important.
The other thing that I immediately noticed was how lonely I was. When I was with Bass, he would be around, his friends would be over, and although I saw my friends too, they were mostly all ‘out of the house’ type engagements. The house once young one was asleep was eerily empty. I moved in temporalilly with my mum as I was scheduled to have surgery shortly after the break and I guess this gave me some space with lots of people looking after me to begin to sort out what I was feeling.
I know there was guilt. My young one asked frequently and often about ‘when Daddy was coming home’. It was hard to answer that as although I would not have initiated the split (am sure there’s a whole book I could write on the cataclysmic perils of low self-esteem), but I felt good to be single. But this duality existed, I thought there would be the whole growing old bit, but I wasn’t happy, and I knew that the relationship was the cause of this. Acknowledging this was really hard. For years after the split, if I met someone new, I almost felt as if I was cheating on a relationship that was long over. I didn’t understand how to emotionally end the relationship within me.
So I decided to start engaging with people more. Over the years I have volunteered in many places. I did a fair amount of school fund raising (I still do this), I helped out in a cafe run by The National Trust at The White Cliffs of Dover, I gave my time to a charity that helps families in the community and I worked with a volunteer organisation teaching swimming. There could be other things as well. Meeting and talking to other people became an utter lifeline, as was finding friends in similar positions. Especially that were not adverse to visiting play centres after school, where they provided dinner. Cooking felt incredibly lonely.
Then somehow I found that my confidence was growing. I was putting myself forward for things that I knew I could achieve. I started to make money as a photographer, I was widening my social circles. People were starting to contact me to ask for things and this increased my worth. But I still had a long way to go.
And then I met Robert.
Map Point. Whose life have I had a positive impact in?