Apart from the endless months of self-torment that you go through, trying to decide if it’s “better” to stay or to leave, when the choice is made, it’s not as easy as just packing your stuff and leaving. For me, it was about the children. It was about up-heaving their lives and making the change for them too but making it in a way that meant minimal stress and changes for them.
I’m an over thinker and tend to be a massive planner when it comes to these big moves. I try to have answers for every possible scenario with backup plans to backup plans. In this situation, failing wasn’t an option. Ending the marriage was the best thing for me and the children, and there was no going back. I had to make it, no matter what. So, I spent endless weeks planning. I made a budget. I made lists – what we needed, what we were moving, what was changing, what was staying the same. But despite all the lists and plans that I made, there were things that I didn’t anticipate.
I didn’t anticipate having my employer go into financial issues weeks after I moved. I didn’t anticipate having my income delayed and not having enough savings to meet the next rent payment. I didn’t anticipate some of the costs for purchases that had to be made for the children, because I had to foot the entire bill. I didn’t anticipate the high servicing costs for my car, because it was never like that before. I didn’t anticipate having my pay switch from fortnightly to monthly, when I changed jobs, and then missing the entire first pay cycle because my banking details were misplaced between departments, which meant that I had to wait another full month before I got paid. I didn’t anticipate having to take out a personal loan just to cover the added expenses that I encountered in that first year – expenses that I knew that I could catch up on, but not all at once and certainly not at the interest percentage rate of an overdue credit card.
It wasn’t like I was living beyond my means. I just had a few instances of delayed income, which threw me completely off track. I chose the cheapest, decent apartment to live, that was still close to school for the children, so that they didn’t have to change schools, move away from their friends, or spend a lot of time commuting. I negotiated the best rate I could for my new job, pushing negotiations to their limits. I only bought what we absolutely had to and made sure that the children never went without food. But I ignored my own basic needs. I was so focused on the day to day and the pressure of everything landing on my shoulders (I mean, I was the plan B and there was no one else as backup), that when it came to scrimping and saving, I made a point of scrimping on me and it was usually in the form of food… something that I hid from the children and hid from everyone else too. And this is the thing that no one talks about. It something that I never spoke about.
Mentally, at that stage, I was in a healthier place away from what was my marriage. At that stage, I was completely focused on the children and simply not failing. I was working full time. I was caring for my children full time. I was managing and maintaining an entire household full time. And I was managing the fallout of my marriage (that’s also not talked about), full time. To say I was stressed and on-edge, would probably be an understatement. My head was just above the water line and there were many days when I was swallowing way too much water. There was always so much to do. There was always another bill to pay. It was easy to forget about my own needs, and that's my confession: I neglected myself to the point where I skimped on eating, just to save some money... sometimes an entire meal or two a day. And the real kicker? No one noticed… only my wardrobe did, as I dropped dress sizes. And this continued for years.
Somehow, I mustered up the strength and stamina to push through even the darkest of days and come out the other side. I paid off my personal loan and reached the point where I thought I’d be so much sooner, when I first walked out that door: I was able to financially make ends meet, which included having enough to buy a proper load of groceries every week so that I could eat properly again. I also found a more workable balance between my work and home life and made more time for self-care. And it showed.
Today, I have a healthier glow to me. I’ve regained the weight that I lost and whilst I’m physically bigger than I was before, I’m healthy… not fat. I have the time and the mental capacity to exercise and be a better complete person for myself and for my children. I’m still doing it all alone, but I feel like I’ve transformed, and it’s been one hell-of-a journey to get to where I am today; One that has led me to ditching 80% of my wardrobe in one weekend, because those clothes didn’t fit. (Those clothes also represented the me that was, not the me that is.) The past weekend allowed the opportunity to really think about what I want my new wardrobe to look like – about how I want to present myself to the world. In some ways it’s completely different to who I was. In other ways, for the few that really know me, it’s more of the real me… the uninhibited me who no longer cares what society thinks. (I’m going to get judged regardless of what I do.)
So I’ve made another list. It’s a relatively short one. It’s a list of the clothes that I need to buy. The very few items that I’ll take my time searching for, because I’m no longer going to settle for anything less than perfect. I’m no longer going to buy something cheap, just to get me by. I’m going to do without and save for what I really want. I’m going to keep searching until I obtain what I consider as perfect.
And I’m not going to do it just with my wardrobe. This is extending to everything in my life. And this is something else that’s not talked about when you end a long-term relationship: Over time, you find yourself again and you re-create yourself from the ashes, just like a phoenix.
A new year is coming but this new chapter of my life has already started, and I’m excited. The old me is gone. She no longer exists in any way. I’ve transformed many times in the last few years, but this one is the biggest. The things that used to bother me, don’t anymore because I don’t give them the power to. I’ve overcome so much in these last few years. I’m stronger than I used to give myself credit for. There isn’t anything that I can’t achieve, and I know that because of everything that I’ve encountered, experienced, learnt and accomplished. I’ve transformed inside and out.
I love the new me. She’s healthy, she’s strong, she’s beautiful, she’s inspirational. There is nothing that she can’t do.
And so from today, I pledge to myself, to never compromise. On anything. For anything. Ever again.