Linda was a mum with two young boys when her marriage broke down. She and her husband, John, had drifted apart over the ten years they had been together and Linda had decided to call it quits. She had found herself a full- time job in a local clothing store, rented a two-bedroom flat and prepared for life as a single mother.
She had felt so confident when she started out, sure in the knowledge that being on her own would be so much easier than dealing with an unhappy relationship. However, the reality was starting to hit home. She was exhausted trying to do everything by herself.
Her two boys were angry with her for taking them away from their dad leaving her feeling guilty for hurting them. Perhaps she was just being selfish? Maybe it hadn’t been all that bad? She hadn’t realised just how difficult it would be on her own. Why couldn’t they have made their marriage work? Life would have been so much easier raising their children together. She missed being a part of the traditional family … she felt so alone and isolated.
Even if you, like Linda, were the instigator of the separation, when your partner leaves, or you set out on your own, the shock of the adjustments can be unexpected and terrifying. You may decide to return to the relationship, feeling in that moment of panic that in fact things couldn’t have been so bad. Anything has to be better than the terrifying reality of being alone.
Unfortunately, denial does not change the truth as you soon realise. Even for those who are sure of their decision and have made the necessary preparations for a life without their partner, the reality can be very different than expected. There are so many issues to face, particularly if children are involved. Your feel fearful, guilty for putting your children through pain, and depression and loneliness can set in. All the hope you had for your future seems to pale in the reality of the changes you have to make. Suddenly you are on your own and freedom you expected to find seems to evade you.
You may be exhausted and off balance. You can feel your heart beating fast, you have trouble sleeping. You may not understand why you feel like this and fail to realise it is due to your expectations – about the story you told yourself when you decided to leave your previous life, the illusion you created for yourself in order to find the strength to leave. It is very difficult to leave our current situation with no idea of what the future holds. So we tell ourselves a story in order to feel we will be better off on our own. The reality is that this story may be no more real than the one we told ourselves when we started on the journey with our partner.