Because we must.
My kids were just one, three and five (2 still in diapers!) when their father’s story was disclosed, and I couldn’t imagine raising three little ones on my own. My husband was a fun, loving, and responsible father, often when I was the parent who looked chaotic and distressed.
How the hell was I going to make it without him?
I had just received a devastating blow to my marriage, my womanhood, my psyche, and I was grieving...hard. But I had three young babies to tend to, so my daily mantra as I got out of bed was simply: "breathe."
It's what I repeated to myself over and over again over many, many months. Then I just did what needed to be done: I fed the kids, changed the diapers, went to the park, shopped for food. I slept, grieved, rested, repeat.
I cried…a lot, and wrote out my feelings of hurt, betrayal and rage on anything I could find: napkins, notebooks, sticky notes. I had to unleash the rage that kept boiling over without taking it out on my kids.
It was damned difficult to pull off.
So I sought out every bit of assistance I could find: friends who would help with childcare, a counselor who could help me sort out my thoughts, a church group that could help me understand my higher purpose, and a 12-step group that helped me understand the addiction that had unraveled my family and our life in a single blow.
And bit by tiny bit, it all began working. Something began making sense, and I began feeling better. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel—if not for an intact family, than for an intact mother who could raise her three kids alone.
And what I began to understand over the weeks and months after that fateful afternoon was that I had been a single parent for much longer than I’d realized. My husband had merely been trying to connect with our family as a father and husband while his addiction raged on, undetected. He wasn’t really there, though. He couldn’t connect with me as his wife, and he wasn’t properly engaging with our babies. He was going through the motions of diapering, feeding, reading, and talking to the kids and to me while his addiction had his rapt attention.
After many months outside of our relationship, we were more than just surviving. My kids were adapting quickly to our new realities: a dad who left our family, a new place to call home, and a Mom who was blossoming. Blessings along the way—the support of family and friends, a shoulder to lean on, money received from out of nowhere—helped me stay afloat, and gave me the nudge I needed to move on.
And long before I figured out how I was going to make it, I realized that I was.
The heart-wrenching days became less heart-wrenching and our daily routine began to take on a new flavor. I was no longer consumed with just breathing, but with living. I started to reconnect with friends—the kids and mine—and began rebuilding a new life, minus one member.
And lo and behold, 18 years later, we have all survived single parenthood, fairly intact and unscathed. That is the miracle. Not that we survived, but that we all seem to be pretty much okay.
Bumps and scratches? Yes. Bitterness, anger, depression? Hell, no.
My hope for you is that you can find the same peace, and begin to build a better life for yourself and your family—whether you stay with your addict partner or not.