Eleanor Roosevelt has long been one of my heroes and my title is one of her favorite quotes. It is also my motto. My whole life has been this even when I fought it. Most of mine, and anyone else’s lives is not a series of choices between right and wrong. Nothing is clear cut. Nothing is obvious. It is a choice between hard and slightly easier. Between bad and worse. Between frightening and safe. There have been so many of these “choices” that it is hard to choose one to discuss.
As a child, you are put in situations where you often do not even understand your choices. This is especially true if no one explains to you that you do have choices and what they are. I find myself discussing this often with my son. Because I felt so helpless most of the time and backed into a corner as a child, this is important to me. We discuss his choices and the impending consequences often. I try not to dictate as I do not see how that allows him to develop the ability to make his own choices (however, there are times that I do dictate).
As a young adult, choices were overwhelming. Without a strong sense of self, some of those choices were less than responsible. Some of them I still ponder and wonder what would have been.
The one thing that I struggled with more than anything else was walking away from my marriage. By the time I put my foot down and meant it, I was miserable. I hated coming home after work knowing he was there. I dreaded having to conjure up conversation. Had I not had my son, I wonder if I would have left earlier. However, having my son made it necessary for me to leave. I witnessed a miserable marriage and it warped my view of what relationships and marriage should be. It affected me in ways that I did not realize until I was in the middle of my own. I knew I had to walk away, but I did not know how. People liked my ex. They saw him as a great dad and husband. He put on a great show. Do not get me wrong, he was not physically or even mentally abusive. Financially abusive – yes, but that is another story. I did not know who to turn to. I did not know how to leave with no access to finances. I had to get sneaky. I had to do the thing I thought I could not do. It took me years. Years of scrapping and saving and secretly selling and stashing. It took a few soul-prodding events for me to just cut off all emotions and know that the best and only option for me and my son to have a life free from this strain was to cut off the dead weight and that, sadly, was my ex.
While he is still dead weight often times, he is dead weight 800 miles away and that is (mostly) something I can deal with.
This choice; this thing I did not think I could do has led me and my son to so much happiness. I know it is also very hard for my son, but I honestly do not think it would be less hard had I stayed. I know it would be worse. More tension. More strain. More lies. I lived like that when I had no choice. Getting control my my life and my choices was the scariest thing I ever chose, but it was the best.
I do not feel the same regret that I see so many other divorced women feel and it is most likely because my divorce put me in a better place – financially, emotionally, psychologically. This is not the case for so many women. I am grateful to myself for the choices that I made previously that has allowed me to make the choices I am able to make now. I am grateful to those who have supported me; who made me feel that they would be there when, and if, I fell. Some of them have been. Some were for awhile, but have made their own choices to not be around any more, or their circumstances have changed, or (and this is what happens most often) many feel that support is needed for awhile, but tire of it and think single parents should be “used to it,” but when you are the sole human responsible for your child, there is no end to the assistance you need or the support you depend on. But in the end, I have done the thing I never thought I could do – I am standing on my own and raising a damn good kid who lights up my heart.