Hello Mrs. T,
Lots of love and respect to you.
I’m a single parent to one. He’ll be five next week. And after leaving his emotionally abusive dad just before he turned one, life has been anything but easy. It has got harder every year in fact.
There was the honeymoon period of feeling like superwoman for about six months after I left, then my emotional shit hit the fan. I got myself straight after going to the docs, going on meds for depression and anxiety (anxiety was the biggest problem of the two at the time) and having 3 months of work. Then I went back to work and went through bullying, redundancy, teacher training, and then a big move back home away from my friends support network.
Major financial problems then followed and a year and a half after that and a debt relief order landed another house move.
I am kind of straight. But not in myself. I am drinking too much regularly and can not feel motivated to look after myself. Even tho I know doing so would make it possible to meet another man, make me feel happier and give my little one a healthy mum with a better life expectancy!
Seriously, these things should be reason enough to look after myself.
My question I guess is; why can’t I care about myself? How can I find my self-respect and love, when most of the time I either don’t have time or energy to even consider it?!
Do you think there’s hope for me to change the way I treat/feel about myself?
Mrs. T’s response
Goodness me, you really have been through the mill. No wonder your emotions have been all over the place, and your anxiety levels have been erratic at times.
You are a tremendously brave woman. You absolutely did the right thing by leaving your emotionally abusive partner whilst your son was so young. You saved him from being imprinted with the destructive messaging of how a man/husband/father should behave towards a woman/wife/mother, and can’t commend you enough for your brave decision.
Becoming a single parent is daunting enough at the best of times, but to also lose your support network, it made your journey all the more difficult. Your confidence and self-esteem deteriorated to new, unchartered lows; leaving you feeling exposed and vulnerable. Add to that further negative life events (over which you had no control), you became isolated, both physically and emotionally; doubting who you are and everything that you do.
Many millions of people turn to alcohol, and/or drugs, in the attempt to anesthetise their emotional pain. What each and every person does NOT understand as they embark on this life path, is the POWER, which any one of these substances will have, over YOU; IT WILL OWN YOU physiologically, and will cunningly use your emotions to get what it craves; its fix. You will NOT have a say in it, because it has weakened your resolve and decision making.
These substances will take over your body and mind like a parasite, with you being its host. It happens so gradually you don’t even notice, until one day you realise you can’t function without it.
The feelings of shame, guilt, and failure becomes overwhelming, causing anxiety to escalate, leaving you feeling life is out of your control. When this occurs, the person will reach for whatever has become their comforter; the substance. The downward cycle has begun.
You can spend a lifetime blaming others, and/or situations for your demise. But there comes a time to realise that the one common denominator, at every critical point in our lives, is you.
That having been recognised, you need and must take ownership of every choice YOU made. Others are others, and situations will always be present in your life. It is YOU who needs to change by making different CHOICES because you realise those same old choices of past have always brought you seemingly back to square one.
So, you need to examine which of life’s tool you currently have in your toolbox. Recognise the ones that are old, tired, and not working, then CHOOSE to ditch them. Remember, you are in control.
Too many people at this stage will give up. This is due to the feeling of safety and familiarity attached to their old tools, even though they don’t work and are quite useless to them. To acquire a new set is as daunting as learning a new language in a foreign country. The majority of people will, at first, attempt to learn the new way on their own (pride gets in the way), which simply takes too long, and is frustrating. Then they return to their ‘comfort’ zones, and even though it’s actually uncomfortable; they know the dance well.
The best and most fruitful way to learn new steps in life is by immersing yourself into a new life which abounds with people who once walked in your shoes and took back control from their ‘parasite’, which also controlled and tried to destroy them. They, therefore, know your struggles, and there isn’t a thing you can’t confide and confess to them which will shock, or cause them to turn their backs on you.
As I wrote at the beginning, you are courageous; more than you realise. You have overcome so very much already, and so I want you to recognise you are not a victim, but a survivor.
You began the first step of your journey into the future by reaching out in writing to me and confessed your alcohol addiction. This was another courageous act.
What happens next will map your future, for better or for worse, by the step you CHOOSE. Therefore, I strongly suggest you begin a new path by CHOOSING to reach out one more time to those who have walked in your shoes. Those who will be your support network, to whom you can confide and confess all, and not be judged, because this support network has lived your struggles. For you, this step is simple. Pick up your phone and call your local AA support group. YOUR CHOICE.
Let your son be your inspiration to acquire new, life tools through knowledge, to better enable him in his future, and the CHOICES he is yet to make. And when your inner beauty shines, you will attract the right partner in life too.
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