Leap to Single Motherhood (My Story)

Monday, October 14, 2019

It has been a long, long time since I have had the mental or emotional energy to sit down and replay some of the struggles I faced in my journey or leap into single motherhood. I have no words to describe how overwhelming it's been since the big leap of faith this past Spring. So, I will lay the foundation for those who are new here and share my story of my leap into single motherhood.

Single Mom

Spring 2019

This was the season that my lease ended in the apartment that I shared with my ex. We moved here together during my summer semester of 2017, so I could finish my last two semesters of law school. I initially planned to have one of my sisters move here with me to Florida, from Georgia, but it didn't work out. I was in Georgia prior to that because I had previously decided to move in with my ex's family after the delivery of my son. At that time, around Fall 2015, I hoped that my ex and I would get it right and get married and start a life together. I wanted the responsibility of making a home and creating a life for the beautiful baby God entrusted to me.

I'm going off topic here, and many of you already know this from prior posts, but realizing I was carrying my son woke me up. I was overwhelmed with conviction and realized how far out of God's will I had wandered, but I made promise to God and continued to lean on Him throughout my pregnancy.

Spring 2015 (Some Background)

During my pregnancy and before the delivery, I was in law school in Florida, again sharing my apartment with my ex. He came to live with me after finishing his degree. We weren't in the best place, and we had obviously been long distance, but I think we were holding on to the feelings of comfort we had established with being in a relationship for so long already. It was the beginning of my Spring semester that I found out that I was pregnant, so I was determined that we could repent and grow together. I soon saw the early signs that he wasn't going to embrace the responsibilities of being a family based on our day to day life as my pregnancy drew near. I could never even have imaged the dysfunction and chaos that would ensue from the lack of support from my ex and my own dysfunctional, controlling family. Yet, God strengthened me to endure so much during that time and afterwards when problems arose my ex's family after my baby's birth.

He strengthened me by giving me hope and determination to keep walking when my heart would break trying to build my life around what seemed like the right thing: my family's expectations the expectations of my ex's family. I knew that I was not in a place to financially support my son alone and I felt guilty because my son's family on both sides had offered support. Additionally, I was so in love with my son that I was willing to sacrifice my discomfort for what I thought he needed. But, in the back of my mind I remembered the promises I made to god concerning the child he blessed me with and my role as his mother. God had showed mercy on me even after running away from him and seeking the comfort and acceptance of the ways of this world. There were multiple times when I felt God placing it on my spirit to return to school in Florida, but I was hesitant. The idea of moving states with a 1-year-old and having to dedicate so much time to school made me uncomfortable as a new, first-time mom.

Spring 2017 (The Final Push)

By then, daily life with my ex's family had gotten bad. Really, really bad and the dysfunction and chaos escalated. I believe God allowed those emotional attacks and trials as evidence as to why He was instructing me to return to the life I left out of fear. I couldn't stay where I was and fulfill the life I intended to live (a life according to His will). Running away and seeking the comfort and support from the wrong people will eventually leave you a shell of a person. However, it was still a struggle for me to move forward. Then, God revealed some very ugly truths about my ex's family and their feelings towards me that I could no longer ignore. These revelations were very hurtful and felt so hateful that I could barely comprehend them. So, I finally paid attention and became genuinely motivated to get in contact with my school and finish getting things in order for reenrollment.

I still had doubts about he "how." Even more so, I wanted to stay in a bubble with my son. He was almost 2 at the time. I was still exclusively breastfeeding him and my life had become my role as mom. It felt so right being a mom full-time, but I knew the situation was not right and I hoped for a better environment for him. That being said, I sucked up the hurt and kept moving towards what I knew was God's will for my life. Like I stated before, I asked one of my sisters to move with me. She was in a transition stage in her life and I thought it's be good for both of us to lean on each other. But, that didn't go as planned. I was a little disappointed, but I knew she had her own problems. As a result, I figured my ex would most likely have to come with us. While living in his parents' home, my ex was not really involved in the day to day care of my son and my son and I even had our own room. I was ready to leave my ex and his family, but he did start making arrangements to move with us. I believe he did so to meet his parents' expectations. Still, I didn't have a choice and had to accept the arrangement.

Not So Smooth Transition

Upon moving back to Florida, I started lashing out form a place of deep anger and resentment that I had built up towards my ex. I was angry that he didn't even seem to know how to handle caring for our son. In addition to that, I had serious anxiety for the future. I didn't trust that God would deliver me at that time. I thought He was punishing me for the choices I had made, yet I had suffered so much already. From my painful, dysfunctional family life before meeting my ex and trying to build a life with him to the hatefulness displayed by my ex's family, and finally my ex not confronting them and leaving me to care for his child and emotionally endure all of it alone.

Why didn't I have anyone to depend on besides the guy who didn't even take me seriously? Through all that self-pity though, I still had to admit the part I played in creating my mess. Through all of that, I had to focus on school, so I pushed through. I had to come home and take care of the baby, most of the housework, and get my reading and assignments prepared for my classes. I was so sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and frustrated all the time. I missed my baby and I was angered that my son's father wouldn't try to at least help with the load to make life flow easier.

Spring 2018

Then I was faced with a decision. I had finally graduated and it had been a few months. I hadn't been able to find a job, and I knew that I couldn't go back to my family. So, when the time came to renew my lease with my ex, I did. I had no where else to go. That year, things got much worse. I was no longer receiving financial aid and my ex was working full-time. He made it very clear how much of a burden it was to provide for us. Even so, he wouldn't help me pay for the cost of taking the Bar exam. That fact hurt because I had always supported him and would still have supported him in reaching his goals at least for our son. So, I was at a place where my ex resented taking care of everything and yet wouldn't even set aside a little bit of money, so I could take the Bar exam, hopefully pass, and start practicing law. I felt stuck.

I became determined by pride to get a job and I accepted that I would just become a single mom and then I wouldn't need anything from anyone ever again (like it's that easy). However, God knew the condition of my heart. I had so much anger and hurt, and disappointment that God needed me to face. I way beyond frustrated. I thought my problems would be solved if only I had family support or a well-paying job. Out of desperation, I even asked my mom to help me pay for the Bar on many occasions and she would agree to, but never followed through. So there I was, helpless. I had worked really, really hard and I had nothing to show for it.

Fall 2018

During this time, I applied to SO MANY JOBS. Yet, no real door opened. I worked a few retail jobs, but they needed flexibility that I couldn't offer if I wanted to work more hours. I was quickly learning firsthand just how expensive child-care is. Retail jobs pay very little to non-managerial employees. Furthermore, my ex was not happy about the high cost of childcare. I literally couldn't win. So, I continued working, but changed my availability to evenings after my ex came home. It was so evident to me that in some cases it is pointless for mothers with small children to work because most of the pay will go towards the cost of childcare.

One day after a weekend shift that I was called in for, I stopped and marveled at the beauty of that windy, fall day. Then I felt God speak to my spirit reassuring me that He was not trying to put me to shame. I listened and that gave me hope because I admit that I felt silly working a part-time job at minimum wage with high school and younger college students. Yet, I could feel in my spirit that it wasn't the time for the full-time job with benefits and for me to be able to move out of the apartment I shared with my ex. I tried to accept that, but then my ex would complain or put me down as if I wasn't trying, and I would start up again applying like a mad woman every chance I got.

The Call

I was really fed up one day while at the sink cleaning dishes and I broke down. I cried out to God audibly in frustration for the first time in my life that I can remember. I asked Him to help me because I didn't understand. Then, I had a full on crying session. After my episode, I notice that I had a missed call and a message from a recruiter for a temporary, legal position I applied to. I was in a bad mood, so I made a mental complaint that this "temporary" job was not what I needed. I obviously needed a full-time job with benefits. Then, I felt God respond in correction. I felt Him remind me that I had just asked for His help, and if I wanted things to change I had better start acting in faith and seeing where He led me instead of reacting out of pride and ungratefulness.

After a quick phone interview, I was given a start day within a couple of days. On my first day, the very first person I met on the elevator to my floor ended up being a connection to start attending fellowship meetings with other believers. Those people were genuine followers of Christ. I had never met people who were all in and living for God before. So, I began attending those meetings and visiting a church that the members attended. God was using those people to encourage me to renew my mind. I wanted to live for God, but the cares of the world were competing with my desire become closer to God. I had seen Him work in my life and I had felt His presence, but I hadn't yet reached that level of intimacy where I had that complete trust in Him. I still struggle with that. Most times, I feel like I'm too damaged or that my experience of "conditional love, abandonment, neglect, and even abuse" hindered me from allowing God in. I also find it hard to believe that He can accept all these dark, ugly parts in my heart that result from worry, fear, isolation, and rejection.

My ex was a big distraction during this time. Even though I was making more money for that temporary time period, our incomes combined were pretty good, but for some reason our financial situation had not improved. So, I was still not able to save up for the Bar exam. It was once again frustrating because the job was "temporary." Me being the girl who always had a solution, kept pushing my ex to create a budget with met, but he was unwilling and I didn't always react so well to that in all honesty. Yet, I kept repenting when I lashed out in frustration and tried to move forward. I eventually came to a place where I stopped looking for help in my ex. Although, I had supported him, he wasn't going to support me in my attempts to make a better life for my son. So, I started praying and telling God that I believed he was my help and my provider and even though, it didn't feel good to be in my situation, God was working things out for my good. I also began thanking Him for providing for me and my baby during our bedtime prayers.

Spring 2019

Once again, we began receiving renewal notices. I was confused about what to do. I figured I needed to have it "all together" before I could refuse to renew or lease another apartment. I told my ex I didn't want to renew, but I don't think he took me seriously at first. It was hard holding my ground looking at my situation. I didn't have a job, nor any saving, nor my own car, nor any real family support. Yet, the more I thought about how the past year went upon signing that lease I knew I couldn't do it again. This time I wanted to try a new thing. I wanted to use faith and believe that with God, I could do this.

The door opened for another temporary project around this time. So, I was working that temporary job and applying to other jobs. Time ran out to give notice of nonrenewal, so I opted to sign a month to month contract which doubled the rate of the apartment. I wanted to keep believing that something would happen even when our financial mess and lack of a budget became a serious issue. My ex complained that he couldn't afford it and neither could I.

The Practical Solution

I'd made a connection with a lady from one of the fellowship meeting I attended and upon hearing a little bit of my story, she offered a place in her home to Eli and me. I decided then and there that if things didn't work out, that would be my back-up plan. Additionally, if I wasn't able to afford the month to month rate, then we would move in with her and I would face the consequences later. Around that time, my ex's parents helped him get a new place. So, after that, I felt the pressure and reached out to the connection I'd made. By then, the situation had changed and that was no longer an option. It was unexpected and a blow to me. I began getting worried and thinking, "what now?" I was trying to do the right thing by not living with my ex, who was not my husband, and creating a functional home for my son.

Then one day while at my temporary job, I felt convicted because I was attempting to run away from the obligation I'd made to pay my month to month rate. I was avoiding facing that situation head on and I wasn't even trying to work out it out in a humble way. I'd gotten frustrated and defensive by the leasing office's unsympathetic attitudes. I had a couple of conversations that got nowhere. It was probably due to me avoiding contact and hiding out. I began praying and repenting for the way I handled the situation. I know very well that there are policies that those employees have to abide to. To my surprise, I received a call soon after from the leasing manager and she told me she was willing to allow me to renew at the prior rate instead of the doubled, month to month rate if I renewed the lease for a year. Well, that was better than eviction!

The Leap of Faith

Of course that required a serious leap of faith (for me anyway, haha). I was still working at the temporary job, but we had already completed most of the work. Even so, I did it. I agreed to reapply for the apartment. I was sure I needed a cosigner, so I reached out to m mom. She was reluctant to agree, but I begged her and revealed some of what was going on. I told her I would work any job to make it happen. I didn't mind putting in hard work. So, she completed the application, and I went in the next morning to turn in my application and print out a couple of paystubs. On the walk over, I prayed and apologized for running to my mom in fear. I had a feeling He wanted me to depend on Him solely. I was always running to others for help or acceptance, especially my mom. I asked Him to let it all fall through or work out in another way if He didn't want my mom involved in the process.

As soon as I entered her office, she said, "You know what, let's try to apply for the apartment without using your mom, because it's better for your credit." I was shocked at that, but said, "ok." She also noticed from my paystubs that I received weekly payments. So, she told me that I needed 4 paystubs and I went to print 2 more. Again, let me emphasize the number of paystubs needed: FOUR. Well, guess what, I had only been on the project a little over a month, and I only had EXACTLY four paystubs to offer her. I was in awe sitting at that computer. Then, we went to her office and she began filling in my information and finally, she said, "You're in. We didn't even need your mom's information." I was shocked again! I was overcome with the realization that God had provided exactly what I needed to take this leap of faith, even with all the distractions, fear, and many, many, many mistakes on my part.

And now here I was with the apartment all in my name, and a temporary job that ended right after signing the lease, of course. I couldn't believe all that had happened and the way that it had happened. It had worked out for my good through all the trials I faced, just like God's word says. I was ashamed at how much of a mess I was worrying, reaction from a place of emotions, and trying to do things in my own might, when I didn't "see" the immediate results of using faith. Yet, when I opened my heart to face the correction I needed for my mistakes, God had proven that He had already gone before me. How undeserving am I and merciful is He?

This is a Journey, Not a Happily Ever After...

Of course there is much more to my story, and I still hadn't been offered a steady job at that point, but this was the starting point of my journey to single motherhood. I wish I could say that the celebration continued, but I soon realized that this was just the beginning of a slow, messy and painful process of adjusting to this new, overwhelming normal. I was also unprepared for the grief, fear, and stress that I would have to face on top of caring for my son full-time with no once else there but me. On top of that, I hadn't even considered how much of a painful adjustment it would be for my son not having his dad present.

I feel a little vulnerable sharing this, but I often wonder how many people are just like me going about their day smiling, yet desperately seeking some kind of hope or reassurance that everything is going to be ok because on the inside they feel like they are about to fall apart. This could especially be true for single moms (or dads), who may feel rejected, abandoned, helpless, frustrated, and even angry to the point of bitterness. Well, you are not alone and sometimes to see change we have to reach beyond ourselves and take that painful first step of trying again. Failures have a way of paralyzing me sometimes, but stirring up that little bit of faith and courage to face these seemingly impossible situations by believing God again, may be the very answer to all of your problems.

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