Day after day I visit message boards and read the words of single mothers who are enraged. They are enraged at the man who left them, the man who will not pay child support, or the man who is fighting them for custody.
Paralyzed by Anger
The forums literally ooze with hatred, depression, and despair. As much as I want to empathize I can’t. I can’t feel sorry for these women, my sisters who go on and on about what some man is or isn’t doing. Where has all their power gone? And why are they giving it all away?
“What do you mean?” you may be asking. “How can you be so cruel?” you are probably screeching. I mean that women, especially single women give too much of their power away. I don’t mean physical power (most men will always be physically stronger), but I’m talking about emotional and spiritual power. I’m talking about the strength of will and resilience every woman is born with. They just give it all way to the man they claim to hate.
When a woman is hurt and rejected it takes a long time to recover. We become depressed and/or angry. We find it hard to let go, but hold on like a dog with a bone out of some misguided desperation. If he doesn’t want you then let him go!
Let It Go
When I say let him go I mean all of him. If a man does not want to give you the financial or parenting support for your child then let him go. What I mean is that you should let him go emotionally. Please don’t waste your time and energy being angry or hurt because he left. When you allow yourself to get caught up in the emotional roller coaster surrounding your ex you are giving him power and control.
If you are not sure about how to let go emotionally, let me give you a few tips to make a clean break.
1. Grieve – you have to grieve the end of the relationship. You see a breakup is like death. The relationship has died and you are no longer involved because that person is gone. Like death you are left with the memories, the child or children, and the pain of his absence. It may have been a sudden breakup or it could have been coming on over time like a soul sucking disease. Whatever the circumstances the relationship is dead and it’s time to grieve.
It is important to go through all the stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may cycle through once or twice but the key is to allow yourself to move through all the phases. It seems that some people get stuck in the anger and depression stages. This is where the acting out happens. Self-destructive behaviors occur and more damage is done than is necessary.
Getting to the point of acceptance and hope is so essential to letting him go. In your grief give yourself permission to cry. Cry everyday for a month, or six months if you have to, but at the end of one year or less you should be over the self-destructive part.
When you fail to grieve you suffer, your kids suffer, and you spread your hatred and venom to others who may have been on a healthy path of resolution. You may cause them to have setbacks because you haven’t let go.
2. Take Personal Responsibility – Your ex is not entirely to blame for the death of the relationship. You likely played a role either in a passive or aggressive way. It takes two people to make or break a relationship. It’s easy to be caught up in the victim mentality but if you are going to get through life and single motherhood successfully you’ve got to start taking responsibility for the role you played.
Maybe you were too passive and let him walk all over you. He lost respect for you and decided to find a more challenging female. Men need challenges and a woman that will let a man walk all over her isn’t much of a challenge. So he went off and found someone else.
Maybe you were too aggressive. You may have a mouth that won’t quit and he was either too weak or just as aggressive. If he was weak he was tired of getting run over so he ran out. If he was just as aggressive he decided that he didn’t want to be with another man (meaning you) and found a softer, kinder female.
Maybe you were too busy with your life to pay attention to him (I know this will get some screeches) so he found a female who would notice him and admire him. Men really are little boys in a grown man’s body. They want to be noticed and admired. They want to be the center of attention. You didn’t give him that despite his requests or brooding silence so he found a way to end it.
Maybe he was a jerk from the start and you just used bad judgment in deciding to be with him. It happens so accept it and move on. Men who haven’t grown up; men who are psychologically damaged; men who are sociopaths; and men who are abusive can never be reasoned with. It is a no win situation so that’s all the more reason to let him go.
So you see you probably contributed to the death of the relationship in someway. Accept it, forgive yourself, and move on.
3. Forgive – Forgiveness is the hardest things to do. Why? Because we think that we are letting the person off the hook and he’s getting away scot-free. The truth is forgiveness frees you. It lets you off the hook and frees your mind from the burden and energy spent from having to stay angry with people.
Forgive him for hurting you and failing to live up to your expectations. Forgive him for leading you on, lying to you, and leaving you. Forgive him for being unreliable, failing to support you and/or your child. Forgive him for cheating on you, abusing you, and dumping your body on the side of the proverbial road. Forgiveness does not mean that all those things never happened. It simply means that you chose to no longer be held captive by the pain.
Forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be taken for a ride if that’s what happened. Forgive yourself for doing to much or not enough. Forgive yourself for not being perfect and not being able to hold the relationship together. Forgive yourself for choosing the wrong man, having an unplanned pregnancy, and the million other things you are beating yourself up over. Free yourself by forgiving yourself then move on.
4. Create a New Life – Now that you have gone through the first three steps you are ready to do the exciting part—start over. As scary as it sounds, starting over is the most freeing thing you can do for yourself and your children.
You may have a plan or you may not (I recommend having a plan) but the point is that you can start over and do life differently. You can go where you want to go, do what you want to do, visit, love, and be alone if that’s what makes you happy.
Creating a new life is about living the way you always dreamed you would live. That doesn’t mean your new life will be problem free, you just won’t have the headaches and heartaches of dealing with the person who hurt you.