This is without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a mother.
Whether it’s separation from the child’s other parent or a new relationship, the pain of heartache is like no other.
All you want to do is pack a bag and run away or fall asleep until the pain passes, you can barely eat or sleep and if you’re anything like I was, will be surviving on a diet of nicotine and tea. Your nerves are frayed to the core, your head is awash with all-consuming, obsessive thoughts and the only thing you can think about is how to get rid of the pain.
Yet you have a child/ren who still need you to parent them. Children who don’t have a clue about the pain you’re in still want to laugh and play and push your buttons.
I can honestly remember thinking ‘I’m not even sure I like my child/ren anymore’ or ‘maybe they would be better off with their Dad’. I resented the fact that they were expecting me to, through all this pain, still cater to their needs. Did they not know how much effort it took to walk to the kitchen to make them a drink, or what leaving the house felt like…?
At a time when I could barely bring myself to brush my teeth or wash my face, I had little people depending on me to function as a normal human being.
And then there are the friends and family members you lean into giving you advice such as
“well just think there is always someone else worse off than you”
“just put all of your focus into them now (the kids) they’re the most important thing”
or my personal favourite
“come on now, don’t let them see you upset, it’s not fair”
Well, first of all if you don’t know it already then I want to tell you this
YOUR KIDS ARE NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE.
If you are crippled by the all-consuming pain of separation, which by the way has been proven to be the emotional equivalent to breaking your arm or a severe burn* then you’ll know that focusing on anything other than yourself is almost impossible
What you need is to heal. To do this you need time and space to be kind to yourself. You need to make sure the people you are leaning into for support are doing just that and not making you feel worse (don’t hate them for this, they’re doing the best they can with the knowledge they have)
Having been through this scenario 3 times I wanted to share some insight into what helped me and the lessons that good old hindsight has taught me
1. Call In The Childcare
Never will the need for ‘me time’ be as important as when you’re experiencing a break-up. I highly doubt you’ll find much pleasure in your children in the early stages and for the benefit of both you and them lean into your support network to help ease the load. Your parents might not be great at giving out advice but I’m sure if you explain the situation they will help for a day or 2. If not your parents then think about asking the co-parent, their family or trusted friends. Time to breath is what you need without having to think about anyone else.Hindsight taught me: My children have in no way suffered from me having time away from them. I would say it’s benefited them in many ways…and continues to do so. As long as it is a person you know and trust you have NOTHING to feel guilty about.
2. Autopilot Will Do
Of course, the children will need to return at some point, or maybe for some of you, there is no childcare. When they are around know that it’s okay if you’re just meeting their basic needs for a short time. Washing, feeding, getting drinks, wiping bums, the odd cuddle here and there and plenty of screen time and snacks are all OKAY no one is going to suffer from a few days of ‘basic’Hindsight taught me: My children were both a blessing and a curse during these times because as much as they needed me I needed them. Cuddles, little words of wisdom and the distraction of having to take care of them (even when I didn’t have the motivation to do so) were all part of the healing process, even if I didn’t know it at the time
3. Let Them See You Cry
If you need to cry then bloody well cry! Why would you not let your children see you cry? Sadness is a valid human emotion. Without sadness, we would all be sociopaths. I believe crying is the body’s way of releasing pain. I have cried with both my children and in turn they have both cried with me (not just my 4-year-old girl but my 20-year-old son too). When my son left home recently my daughter spent pretty much the entire evening wiping away my tears and telling me everything was going to be okay and she would look after me – how beautiful is that?! Don’t pretend to your children that life is all unicorns and daisies, it’s not. It’s fucking hard ALL of the time. Show them that and also show them we can do hard things
Hindsight taught me: Children are tougher than you think and they can handle a Mum that is crying with pain, it won’t turn them into a delinquent but rather an adult who isn’t ashamed to feel and they will always know they have a safe space to go to (you) when they need some comfort of their own
I wanted to end this by saying that another very important lesson hindsight has taught me is that trying to do this alone makes it even harder.
Sometimes, the people that love and care about us the most are not very well equipped to help us on an emotional level. There are various other ways you can get that much-needed support.
As both a coach and coachee who has utilised all of the recommendations I am about to give, I still would always put coaching at the top of my list of things that have worked for me, however, they have all in some form helped me to become the fierce, fearless, resilient woman that I am today.
- 1-2-1 support through the more challenging moments
- coping mechanisms and your emotional toolkit
- a future-focused, proactive plan to move from heartache and low self-esteem into a healing space
- building a new mindset that will equip you in making the changes you need
- provide you with a safe space to talk through your thoughts and feelings
- a listening non-judgemental ear
- offer insight and validation on your current thoughts and feelings
- Untangle past trauma
- Insight into how the mind works and how that applies to your current situation
- Practical advice
- Medical treatment of anxiety and or depression
If you would like to discuss any of the points I’ve raised here then please feel free to contact me. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook or Insta @serenalinziwellbeing . You can also find all my contact details and other useful information on my website www.serenalinzi.com Don’t suffer in silence. You matter and you can heal from this. I promise