It was a Friday night and, as my husband was getting up to go to work, the phone rang. I remember him answering it briefly and then calmly announcing to me that he was having an affair. He said he would return in the morning, after work, to collect his things. We had only been married two years and I was five months pregnant. I was shocked and devastated.
Although it’s still a blur, friends came and helped me through that long night and the following days. Four months later, my husband was present when our son was born and I hoped things would be okay. But ten days later he told me his girlfriend was pregnant with his child.
Waves of emotion
Still reeling from the shock and unbelief of all that had happened, I was totally unprepared for the waves of emotion that would follow – anger, jealousy, grief, loneliness, rejection and despair. Life was exhausting and the emotional pain was so intense that all I wanted to do was sleep. But I had to carry on for my son’s sake.
Having a tiny newborn to care for helped me focus on a daily routine. Even though I just wanted to hide away, I had to make life as normal as possible for my son. It’s amazing how quickly you can adapt to a new situation, even one you didn’t choose.
Friends were very supportive and helped me understand the benefits’ system and deal with mortgage arrears. They also helped with practical things like babysitting and house repairs, and occasionally included us in their family gatherings.
I didn’t believe in divorce, but found I had no choice in the matter when, years later, my husband divorced me. It took time to work through the pain and move on, but I do believe I have become a stronger, more confident person as a result. I discovered it wasn’t easy, but it was possible to parent alone.
It was an incredible time just being with people who understood
Spending time with other single parents
When my son was seven years old, my brother paid for us to go on holiday. It was the first break that Care for the Family ran for single parents and their children. I was incredibly nervous about going away on my own, but we desperately needed a break.
It was an incredible time just being with people who understood. The other families had all been through so much too. One lady’s husband had died, leaving her on her own with two young children. Another mum had chosen to adopt two children who may otherwise have grown up in children’s homes or foster care.
We did all sorts of exciting activities. Although the thought of canoeing terrified me, I felt such a sense of achievement doing it. The break away was so wonderful, we went again another year. Later I was even asked to join the team as cook! The leaders were fantastic with my son. They gave him different responsibilities, which not only increased his self-worth, but helped him to develop and mature. The experience changed and enriched our lives.
Facing the future – with hope
At a time when I felt completely overwhelmed, Care for the Family gave me hope, affirmed me as a parent, and helped me face the future, and I would encourage anyone parenting alone to go on a Take a Break holiday. It really does make all the difference.
Find out more about our Take a Break holidays.