Embracing vulnerability. Sharing my truth. Holding space for others that have struggled through divorce.
Welcome to Single Mama Thrive! I hope this blog will be a welcome space for anyone thriving, or wanting to thrive, as a single parent. It will also serve as a place to share my story and here’s part one …
It took me some time to decide on the title of this first post. Abandonment is a word with such heavy connotations. On one hand, as I write this years after the events, I feel bad saying “abandonment” because my ex-husband has turned out to be a good father and so far held true to the commitments he made through our divorce and settlement process. Abandonment would be more appropriate for my own father who abandoned all emotional, physical, and financial commitments to his two daughters and wife. But that’s another story. But as harsh as the word “abandon” can come across, when I reflect on the last few years and relive the moments that led me to this space, the one word that seems to capture exactly how I felt is, “abandoned.” And so I stick with this word and here begins my story …
If you had told me this is how my pregnancy would go down, I would have never believed you. No one would have believed you. But here I am, nine weeks pregnant and just arrived home from the first sonogram. Blissfully unaware of what was soon to shatter everything I thought I knew about my life and my future.
The sonogram was the first confirmation that I was truly, finally pregnant. This was real life and I was so in love with this moment. Husband and I had watched the little gummy bear of a fetus on the screen, our future child, our creation. There is something absolutely magical about seeing life within you, and when you thought perhaps you would never see this day … it is pure elation. I mistakenly assumed my happiness was shared, but this would be the last doctor’s appointment I ever shared with my husband.
Standing at my kitchen counter, I hold the flimsy sonogram films in my hand like a pirate clutching long-sought treasure. My husband sits across from me.
“I’m not sure I can do this,” he speaks.
“What do you mean?” My head is still overwhelmed with joy – I’m pregnant! I’m freaking pregnant!
“I just don’t feel like we’re a team.”
“Wait, what are you talking about?” I say this with a half laugh because I’m assuming this must be a bit of his never-ending sarcasm, that some clever remark is about to make me feel silly. Only later do I realize how on edge I was, a state of being I had become accustomed to. How living with someone that constantly seeks to place blame on you for his unhappiness makes you a master of apology and unrest. Like trying to maneuver a balance beam, placed above lava, during an earthquake – the anxiety starts to rush over me because I don’t know what’s to come.
“I’m not sure I can do this.” He speaks plainly, matter-of-factly. He should have been a professional poker player or lawyer. He’s so adept at hiding his emotion sometimes you wonder if it’s really there at all.
Again. What does that mean? The vagueness of his dilemma starts to unleash my frustration and with frustration comes cursing. It’s a bad habit I’ve never been able to break.
“What the fuck are you talking about? the baby? Are you seriously telling me you don’t want to have the baby we just saw move?”
“No. I want a baby. I wanted a baby. I just don’t feel like we are working.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
Sometimes you receive bad news that makes you sad for a minute, hour, maybe a day. You receive it and it might pinch a bit internally, tug at your guilt, or regret, or pity. But this was different. I could feel my chest sinking as if a thousand bricks were just dropped there. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t good.
I look at him, sitting calmly across from me and I want to scream. My heart fills with the pain of anger – anger that he has just taken away the absolute joy I felt in knowing I finally had a healthy pregnancy and that life that was swimming within me. This person I loved had replaced my joy with the type of shock you experience when someone you thought you knew so well becomes someone else entirely.
“Are you telling me you would be happy if I lost this baby?” I ask this question, 100% confident that I know his answer. I was wrong.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. But … I would be relieved.”
The words hit me like a freight train. Words you can’t take back. Words that can’t be unspoken. Words you can’t unhear. Sometimes fragments of our past haunt us like lonely ghosts. This conversation, his unfeeling eyes, his unemotional voice, these memories haunt me no matter how much I work to push away those lonely ghosts.
I imagine this is what dying from asphyxiation must feel like. I no longer have lungs; they have melted and dripped down into my stomach. I am reaching futilely for more air, feeling as if I am simply empty inside. Tears begin to stream down my face.
“Where is this coming from?
I don’t understand.
You’ve never said anything before.
Is there someone else?”
Thoughts, questions, desperation, and confusion pour out of me.
“No, there is no one else. I’m just not happy. I don’t feel supported.”
“You don’t feel supported? Are you fucking kidding me? I’m the one who just went through fertility treatment. I’m the one that has our child growing inside me as we speak. You’re the one telling me you don’t feel supported?”
“I’m sorry, I need to go lay down.”
I lay myself down in fetal position, tears drowning out the panic. Breathe, breathe. I tell myself “it will be okay,” as if I am calming a child.
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