Ever wonder what life holds for you after separation?
Not one separation is ever the same, but commonalities can often be found.
These very honest accounts, are from newly single Wollongong parents. They have navigated the incredibly tough road of leaving a partner or being left.
It’s being shared in the hope that it can give comfort, hope and confidence, all with a healthy dash of realism, to anyone on or considering this path. You are not alone despite the loneliness that your situation elicits.
If life is one long journey of constant lessons, separation is one of the most confronting yet rich in realisations.
Starting over alone takes huge courage. But true of life’s toughest challenges, it can hold the best rewards.
No divorce is without a unique and insightful story. So, here we go….
What to consider – separation after kids…
Story number one – five years separated and co parenting 50/50
It’s been five years since I separated from the father of my children and I often have married friends marvel at the life I’ve created for myself. They see how content and happy I’ve become, they see my incredible social life and my new found, flexible career. They see and smile and support me with my various dating escapades!
What they can’t know is the hard road that I’ve walked to get here and the challenges I face as a single parent. I want to give a fair account of separation, because I LOVE the life I’ve re-created for myself, but it’s been super tough…
1. Separating from my husband has left us both in a worse financial position.
I’m now the sole breadwinner for my family. I have no backup, no family support and no trust fund. The amount of pressure this puts on me can sometimes be paralysing. But it has also kicked me in the butt to work smart and educate myself about my finances.
2. I miss my kids.
There’s no way around this. It’s important for them to have a good relationship with their dad and it’s important that I get time to recalibrate and look after myself. Five years on, I still get depressed the first night they’re away. I now have little rituals to support myself that make it easier, but it still sucks.
3. Separating isn’t a cut and dried solution that ends your relationship issues.
If you have kids or plan to coparent furbabies, then you’re stuck with this person for at least 20 years. Quality coparenting means exceptional communication – don’t underestimate how hard that is! If your relationship is hard now, seek out couples counselling (Relationships Australia is a great start).
No matter if you decide to stay or go, it’s worth the effort.
4. Single parenting can feel isolating and lonely.
There’s no default person in my life that asks me how my day was, or will sit and plan our next holiday. It’s all on me, which has forced me to build a network and learn how to ask for what I need, which has been challenging and deeply healing.
5. I have no one to defer to anymore – for better or for worse.
We all do it to greater and lesser degrees. Once I was on my own, I realised I had been hiding and I had to learn how to own my stuff and learn how to do things myself, or outsource it when I could afford to.
6. Humble pie doesn’t taste good, no matter what the books tell you.
I’ve read a lot of self help and I’ve had an incredible therapist supporting my journey but admitting I’m wrong and being truly honest with myself still sucks. Since separating, I’ve had to do this A LOT! That all said… would I do it all again? Absolutely. My children get the best of me and the best of their dad.
7. Since separating I’ve become more myself and I feel a sense of freedom that wasn’t possible in my marriage.
This is equally exciting and terrifying! If you’re thinking of leaving, get the support you need. Even if you have no intention of going to court, speak to a lawyer so you know where you stand and what you’re both entitled to – that goes for money and parenting agreements.
There is no right way to leave and it’s going to be hard on everyone, no matter how hard you work. Get a therapist, move your body, talk to friends – self-care and community care are essential if you want to keep showing up for your kids and yourself.
However, I regret nothing. My life is harder but more fulfilling than I’ve ever known, and I would opt everyday for the challenges of single parenting and single life, over staying in a troubled relationship that was beyond repair.
Story 2 of separation – from a now solo parent of 3 children
I was only thinking this morning about how choosing a life partner, but more importantly a coparent, is the single biggest decision you’ll make. Having said this….. I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family, and continued that narrative, choosing poorly in romantic partners.
The father of my children, my ex husband of 5 years….. When we met, I was 22. We fell madly in love, and there was a lot of physical and sexual chemistry. An unplanned pregnancy not too far in, and we decided we give it a go and create a family.
We loved each, after all….. 2 kids and two properties latter, addiction emerged, trust eroded and marriage counselling ensued….. I thought we’d fought off demons, and that smooth sailing was ahead….
A planned third child later, and addictions re-emerged….
Turns out two people from dysfunctional upbringing bring a shit tonne of baggage and demons to a relationships.
The decision to split was the healthiest option. Realising I didn’t want my kids to turn out like their dad, or to partner up with someone like him either.
The last 5 years have been beyond hard. I have become the sole carer of 3 amazing kids.
The sole responsibility is liberating, but also utterly exhausting.
I wouldn’t change having my 3 kids, but I hope with every inch of my being, that my kids choose an easier journey for their lives, but choosing wisely when considering partners…..
I now have the space to learn about me….
I now have the freedom to not confirm, to grow and to make choices that are healthy and prosperous.
My kids and I are safe.
We are free. And for the most part, we are happy.
Easy is not a word I’d ever associate with separation, but freedom is a positive that can not be held in a high enough regard.
My ultimate advice….. go into relationships with eyes wide open. Your time and energy is precious. Separation is sometimes for the best, and sometimes necessary.
See life as one unfolding opportunity. There are no redos. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and move forward, hopeful for happier days. You chose your partner or ex partner based on what you knew at the time and now you are older and wiser. Call upon that wisdom.
For anyone considering separation or already on this path, getting sound legal advice is super important. Even amicable separations can benefit from accessing the legal advice as to what you are entitled to – and what is fair for both parties and for the kids.
ALG Wollongong (Access Law Group) offer trusted and expert advice for anyone needing support at this time – click here for details. Or call / email for a confidential chat on (02) 4220 7100 / email [email protected]
Parent Guide Illawarra is your local friendly guide to all things kids and family. We would like to thank the local parents who shared their experiences. We hope it’s been helpful to anyone navigating or considering separation.
Trust you will find your way to a better life. To a better life that is reflective of what you are truly about. It takes time and effort but also offers huge reward.