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First person

The aftermath



Our anonymous writer on that moment when you know it’s over, and finding herself a single mother at forty


I think I first realised it was over during a fight. I simply didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. I didn’t want to. I just knew that no matter how much we went back and forth there would be no compromise. My stomach sank. It’s a big moment to realise you just don’t have the energy to keep fighting. Fighting is good, fighting means there’s still something there to grasp hold of with both hands and claw yourself together. 

I think I’d known for a while that something was off but to admit it was something else. It had been over three years since he’d touched me and with that, the ability to forget the small shit that breaks you apart was gone. It’s one thing to get annoyed by five small but mighty things in a day and then to get to bed and ride it out. Wake up the next day with a clean slate. But it’s another thing entirely to have day upon day build up and up and up with no reset. No coming together to remember who you are. To realise that it was over was a heartbreaking moment. A relief – sure. But heartbreaking.

It’s a moment I will never forget. I was sitting at the kitchen table and I felt so angry with myself that I’d chosen to attach myself to this person. Thing is when you break up with someone with whom you’ve created a little person, the heartbreak isn’t just for the moment of realisation but for all the dreams that you had, and what being together meant. Our future plans were gone. We’d never celebrate a birthday together, or move into our very own house together. We’d never go on holiday together, turn old together. All the little moments that life is made of are now cut away. 

Insert a tiny little person and things become more complicated. Insert 6 months till I turn 40 and my heart starts to flutter thinking about the fact I’m a single mum of 40. I still cannot believe I have to write that. If you’d have asked me what my worst nightmare would be before having a kid it would have been to be a single mum. It felt like a noose around my neck. 

The first guy I dated seriously was a dad of two kids and I vowed to myself once we broke up I would never, NEVER date a parent again. I mean seriously, you’re always second fiddle. And of course, why wouldn’t you be. So for me now to be in that position, a single parent dying for a ride, I am petrified. My heart flutters and my stomach sinks – who is going to date me?

My ex didn’t want to have sex with me for the last 3 years of our time together so talk about insecurities. I used to wonder all the time why he never wanted me. Cried about it for the first year and while I now know rationally, deep down in my soul that it never had anything to do with me, I still worry. I am still insecure about this.

Add into the mix a little person. Plus living in a place where I have no childcare, what am I supposed to do for dating? Take her with me? Oh hi, yeah I think you’re really hot and I’d love a ride oh and meet my daughter. No. 

And this is just one element of life as a single parent. There’s also the communication with the ex. It’s a tricky place to be, we’re already fragile, with remnants of our broken dreams whirring round our heads so every conversation can be fraught with subconscious meaning and negative undertones. I find myself psyching myself up before we meet or talk. It’s the only way I can get through the conversations. Conversations that still invariably turn to blame. Blame on me for breaking up the family. More often than not I walk away blaming myself and yet the flame of wanting more, feeling like I deserve more, flickers on.

Is it so bad that I want romance and love and desire? A partner who inspires me, who I feel is an equal. I want it all. And isn’t that what we’re taught? That we deserve it all. That we can have it all. But can I really? As I quickly speed down the age highway to 40 with a little girl at my side am I allowed to have it all? To be a mum and an object of desire. To be a creative and be taken seriously with my wants. I don’t know yet but I’m ready to find out.