F Simple and Serene Living: women speak: suddenly single 09 10
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

women speak: suddenly single


Welcome to week one of Women Speak. Today's topic was suggested by one of my readers, and I am so glad that she did. 

Suddenly single. Those two words mean a lot to so many of us. Divorced? Widowed? Dumped? Whatever the reason, it is generally painful when it happens, and it is a pain that may take anywhere from a short time to a very long time to go away. There is no magic recovery formula. 




Let me tell my story first. Twenty five plus years ago I found myself suddenly single. Left alone to finish raising two daughters ages seven and twelve by myself, I was a woman who was not working outside of the home, a woman who had not completed college, a woman who had to give up a nice home with a pool to move across country and move in with my mother, and I was scared. I didn't know how to survive in a world of what seemed to be all couples. It was, after all, the only world I had known for over thirteen years. 

I didn't have many choices, but my husband was seriously mentally ill, and I knew it was no longer safe to live with him. So for a year and a half my daughters and I lived with my mom. It wasn't easy. I was traumatized, insecure, alone, and my mother and I didn't get along very well. There were many things I had to face and I had to face those things alone. None of it was easy. No one told me how I was supposed to be suddenly alone. 



Seven very long years later I found myself back in college and then grad school, but in all honesty I have struggled for many of the ensuing 25 years. I did things primarily on my own. I didn't ask for help when I needed it. It was difficult. I often cried. The most important thing I learned during those years is that I don't need a man to make me happy, to complete me. I am okay all on my own. 

So my advice from a personal perspective and as a trained counselor is if you are struggling don't be ashamed to ask for help. You are not alone. Most of us will go through this at some point. 

I will be happy to talk more about divorce and widowhood in the future, but right now I want to hear from you. This is your forum and I hope you will share with us. 

The only rule for this forum is kindness. I hope that you will feel free to share and to offer advice. The one thing I have learned from you, sweet friends, is that you are all wise, caring, and wonderful women. 


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36 comments:

  1. oh that sounds as if you had a very hard time :( By the time my husband and I split up I was very happy to be single :) The hard part for me was simply not having a guy around to do guy things....I called on my brother-in-law only in emergencies and either had to hire someone or leave things as they were, or find simpler solutions / The money part was hard...that never changed but we were not suited for each other and I felt so free to be on my own

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    1. I'm glad to hear that you had a pretty easy transition, Deb and that you had ways to make up for the loss of help. Many women see their income drop after a divorce and that can be a problem for many. Thanks so much for your input. xo

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  2. you made it through a very rough time.

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    1. I did, and the purpose of sharing is to let other women know they aren't alone. We're a strong group. :)

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  3. Thanks for your willingness to be real. I didn't know this. Wow! What a strong woman even when I am sure that most times you didn't feel strong. Your writings are a blessing to me!

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    1. I am so happy that my writings are a blessing to you. We women are a strong group.

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  4. So true, in one way or another, most women will find themselves alone at some point. This is a good topic for conversation, for sharing with one another is therapeutic. You've been through a lot, Laura, and I think it's going to be helpful to many that you've started this conversation.

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    1. Thank you. I hope it is helpful. I want women to know that there is support for them.

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  5. This morning is the first time I've gone across town near where I use to live to get my hair cut. I like the familiar, and I like the prices. The woman cutting my hair has four kids. Two by her first husband. Two by her second. They are in the midst of a divorce, she told me. And what did he do? Moved in right next door to her with his mother. Now I want to say right here that it probably is not a good idea, when you're married, to move next door to your inlaws. I know personally someone very dear to me who is struggling with this same issue. What do you do when you've moved next door to inlaws that may or may not have their name on your home or your property. So please think about this. You might get the best real estate deal in the world. But if, like this young woman, you find yourself getting a divorce, the results are very unpleasant. I am divorced and quite happy. And at peace. Which meant more to me than anything else.
    Brenda

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    1. Oh boy. That sounds like a can of worms. It is so difficult when you have minor children. I hope this works out for her, but I can't imagine living next door to my ex and his mother. Peace of mind is definitely the most important thing. So even though many of us are left with less income, having that peace of mind is priceless. xo

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  6. I think we are close to the same age my friend and one thing we can be sure of after all these years....our lives change. I would have never imagined myself here...living where I do and married to my best friend. I don't go into details but I have lived a few very different lives over the years. I don't dwell on the hard times that led to my happy life. I say a prayer of thankfulness every morning before I get out of bed. And will it change again? I'm sure it will and nothing can prepare you for the future except staying close to God and relying on His help. Thanks for the open discussions my friend. You are an inspiration! Sweet hugs, Diane

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    1. You are a wonderful inspiration, Diane. I want to be you when I grow up :)

      We do live very many different lives over a period of a lifetime. It will always be changing. I am so glad that you have found such wonderful happiness. There is not a sweeter or more deserving person that I can think of. It goes to show that even though we go through difficult times, they will end. xoxo

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  7. Remember the old Barry Manilow song "I made it through the rain"? That's you sweet Laura. And you have such grace and insightfulness. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Ahh thank you, Katie. I've made it through a lot of rain and now I try to jump in the puddles :)

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  8. I've been married for 40 years, so I've never been alone, but I've certainly had rough water at times throughout these years. I'm very happy in my marriage, but at the same time I admire women who have the tenacity to go it alone and I know it's not without great sacrifice many times. It's good you have a blog where you can encourage others as you do.
    God Bless You Laura.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet thoughts. Going it alone can be very difficult, but then again staying can also be difficult for some. 40 years is wonderful. :)

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  9. Your post is an important one and has the potential to help many. I have a cousin who married a man who was and still is disturbed. He is a brilliant man in the computer science field. He had an excellent job but was let go because of his moods. My cousin has two girls with this man. Once while her eldest was small, she phoned my grandmother and asked her if she could come there to live. My grandmother refused. I don't think she knew the whole story, but that was the end of it. So my cousin stayed with her husband. He verbally abused her and her daughter. She had a second girl who seemed to fair a bit better. Now both daughters are grown and out of the house. The eldest has been with a series of men who all left her pregnant and alone. The youngest daughter managed to graduate from college with honors. My cousin is not well and has suffered through five strokes. She is dependent on this man and cannot leave him despite his mental difficulties. He refuses to get help and she is stuck. Had she been brave and reached out to another family member or just reached out to anyone for help, her life and the life of her eldest daughter would have possibly been improved. What you did for yourself was brave. You are a good mother and a strong woman. Thank you for giving women the courage to do what is best and healthy for themselves and their children. PS ~ I have been mentoring my cousin's daughter. I hope that each small hurdle we can overcome will bring her to a better life.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

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    1. This is such a sad story, but unfortunately a very common one. Thank you for sharing it with us. It is so important that women know they are not alone when they struggle. I am sorry that your cousin was not able to get the help she needed when she was younger, but there are still resources for her. Susan, how wonderful that you are mentoring your cousin's daughter. I believe this will make a difference in her life. xoxo

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  10. Re Susan's comment. I have a reader who keeps me up to date on her 40 something son. He too is brilliant. Figured something out in 9th grade that the Pentagon hadn't. BUT. He's mentally ill and now won't take his meds. She is in her seventies. Her ex husband was also a doctor, a renowned retinal specialist. Recently the son told his father he was about to give up on life, and the father told him maybe that was for the best! So I will add my little tidbit about doctors here. DO NOT encourage your daughter to marry a doctor! I know there are good ones. But many of them are not! Remember when mothers wanted their daughters to grow up and marry doctors? I don't know if that really fits this discussion, except to say: This reader and I had all kinds of material things. But we were miserable. Now we're both poor, but at peace. As Laura has said, that is priceless and no amount of money can buy it.
    Brenda

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    1. As I said, there are no limits for this discussion. I want everyone to feel free to say what they want. Encourage your daughters to be whatever they want to be, not to place expectations for their happiness on someone else. That will go along way in helping them to get through if they find themselves suddenly single.

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  11. Hi Laura - I admire you because of the life you have gone thru and come out on top! To have gone thru all of that and still be standing is a miracle in itself. I have been very blessed to have a husband of 45 years who is a saint. I think we have all had trials and tribulations and all handled them in various ways. I don't believe there are very many "perfect families" as we are lead to believe in so many cases. To be alone - especially with small children - and making it on your own is a great accomplishment.

    Look forward to this forums.

    Judy

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    1. Thank you, Judy. I did what I thought was best for myself and my daughters at the time. Being alone can be very scary, but women need to know that being alone is okay. We do not need someone else to complete us. It is wonderful that you have such a loving husband, and I am sure that you are a wonderful wife. Thank you so much for joining in the discussion. I am looking forward to all of your insights. :)

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  12. Laura, we have much in common. My husband and I had 17 yrs of marriage and two children. We grew apart and for many many reasons divorced. He remarried quickly and I had a rebound marriage also. Unfortunately I married a man that was mentally unstable and by the time I left him I was really living in fear. I have had one other long term living with someone relationship, but ended it last summer. I think I'm much happier living alone and leading my life like I want too. My family is my focus and makes me so happy. Financially I'm OK now, but there were many years when it was really touch and go. Thank goodness my parents were able to help me and my children. It's never easy but sometimes being alone is better for someone then being unequally yoked. Thanks for letting me share my story.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Linda. It is very brave of you to open up. We do have so much in common, which is probably why we have become friends. Living with someone who is mentally unstable is very difficult and there are many kinds of abuse (good topic for a future forum). I am so sorry that you went through what you did, but I am so happy that you are now living the life that you want. I think that is the most important message. When someone is left suddenly single they can go on. Life changes, but those changes can be a wonderful thing. :)

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  13. I came back to read comments and wanted to say that there are worse things than being alone....like several have mentioned. It's better to be alone than with someone that makes your life miserable. Very good comments. You are a wonderful inspiration to us all, sweet Laura! Thanks. Enjoy your day!

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    1. Thanks for coming back, Diane. Yes, there are much worse things than being alone. :)

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  14. For most women a relationship brings financial security. In this early morning musing I am reminded of both my grandmothers keeping money in a sugar bowl. I believe we can best mentor young women to make lifestyle choices bringing the most joy and allowing them to succeed independently should their situation change. Being prepared financially seems to ease the options no matter what comes their way.

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    1. Lynn, I could not agree more. All young women need to know that they can make it on their own and that it is important to be prepared to be able to take care of themselves. :)

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  15. While raising our daughters or mentoring nieces, granddaughters, friends, it is so important for us to always instill, from the very beginning. that no one needs another person to complete themselves. Although we want happiness for all, sometimes that happiness isn't found merely being with another person. We have to be happy and comfortable with ourselves first and foremost because along life's journey, we may find ourselves alone.... either for just a bit or for a long while.
    I have been married for 42 years, but that doesn't mean at some point I won't be alone. I thank you for telling your story and for believing and showing that you CAN do it and succeed at life on your own. You are a wonderful example for so many.

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    1. Thank you, Chris for your sweet insights. The first step is loving yourself. I know from experience that being by myself is more than okay. Congratulations on your long marriage. I hope you have many more years together.

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  16. I am a day late to the party but I am so impressed with the open honesty here. God bless you, Laura. I think many of us hide our stories out of shame and fear and it is forums like these that let people feel "free" to open up. Wonderful idea here. xo Diana

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    1. Thanks, Diana. I really want women to know that it is okay to share the things that are going on in their lives.

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  17. Laura,
    I'm single and I've learned to deal with it, but of course it's easier when you don't have children. The good side is you can decorate the way you want!
    More seriously, as a teacher, I try to tell my pupils, boys and girls, that they shouldn't base their life on an other person so that their world don't collapse when this other person is gone, for whatever reason.
    Magali

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  18. Magali, That is the most important lesson. We all need to know that we are okay by ourselves.

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  19. I married young - as in VERY young. I was 14 years old and had my first daughter 1 month after I turned 15. My son came 2 months after I turned 18. My mother had been married many times and I (and my sisters) were determined to make our marriages last. They married young as well. We had to get away from a wicked stepfather so marriage was our only out. At 55 and after 41 years of marriage and 2 more children (I was 36 and 39 when they were born) I filed for divorce. I was in bad shape physically and had to go on public health care where I received excellent treatment and had some pretty major surgeries. I am so grateful to this day that I did not have AIDS or other STD's as my husband was very promiscuous. I had the support of all my children and I knew I was doing the right thing. Still, I was uneducated and had never worked before. But God can make a way where there seems to be no way. He did that for me. He can do that for anyone. I have been an inspiration to friends and family because if God can do that for me - He can surely help no matter the situation. My story has a happy ending. I was fine with being single and thought I would remain that way. I had never BEEN single.....you don't say a 14 year old is 'single!' I joined eHarmony so I could experience dating. I met Louis Dean in April 2005 (I was divorced in Aug 2004) and we were married in June 2005. My kids joked and said, "Mom doesn't believe in premarital sex - just short engagements!" LD had been married 41 years - happily - and had been widowed in 2000. We will celebrate 9 years on June 26th. I know how it feels to be loved and cherished. Even if God had not sent Louis Dean - I would still be happy and fulfilled!

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    1. Linda, Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story. You are obviously one incredible woman. So glad that you have found sell deserved happiness.

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