I have never been a shy or introverted person. I was always comfortable being "me" even at a young age. Still, I have always been a sensitive soul and as I got older, I was anxious—a high energy, anxious, Type A sort of woman. When my ex and I separated, the anxiety ebbed and flowed. Sometimes, it was fine. There was a happiness and peace in finally deciding to divorce once and for all, as well as a joy in not being with the wrong person: i.e., not fighting every day and night anymore. But with separation and divorce, there came major uncertainty and with those changes and "new territory," came anxiety.
Dating. Losing a home. Moving out on my own. Becoming financially independent. Navigating the divorce process. Sharing our child. Coparenting.
All of these things brought some very real fears and others, imagined. One of the greatest fears I would wager to bet most divorced people fear is failure.
Will I be able to make it on my own?
Did I make the right choice?
Will my daughter be fine?
Will I go broke?
Will I meet someone?
I want to tell you that two years later all my fears have subsided, but life has changed since we went our separate ways and in some ways, things are easier and other ways, things are much harder.
Single parenthood though, made me face my fears to the highest level.
I feared dying alone—well, I may die alone still. I have yet to meet "THE ONE," if there even is such a thing. I decided though that dying alone was better than dying with someone who didn't make me happy. I decided that I was going to divorce and take the risk that maybe, there won't be a "happily ever after" that involves some dude on a horse.
Well definitely not a horse , but maybe not even a dude in a car or on a subway.
As I date and find myself not really impressed or connecting with too many men, I am reminded that yes, I am alone but I am not settling. Alone, but not lonely.
I feared that I wouldn't make it in my career—and while I have achieved so much since my separation, I still forge ahead. But single parenthood and becoming financially independent forced me to face that fear with a brisk resolve and focused determination. I had to make it because I had no other choice.
I had to make it because quite frankly, I remember being told by someone that I would never make it as a writer or creative person. That I was being too impractical. That I was stupid.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it not only because I can, but also because I love what I do. And I needed to make a living to support my little one and myself.
I feared that I wouldn't give my daughter "enough." Sometimes, I still feel that way. I still feel that when I am telling people that I am not married, that somehow my daughter is missing out on the one-home, married couple experience. I feared that I couldn't sustain her. I feared that maybe my company as a single mom wouldn't be enough.
But as I fear, I also live. I prove that I am sustaining her. That together, she and I have fun. That I am enough as I am and even if I were to still be married, I would still sometimes wonder as a mother, if I were "enough."
I realized that while I feared being a single parent wouldn't be enough that in many ways, being a single parent has allowed me to really sharpen and define how I want to behave and conduct myself as a parent. While in a bad marriage, I was not able to be me. I felt too criticized. Perhaps we both just couldn't be ourselves completely in the relationship.
I feared that things would be hard with my ex, and yes at times, my fears have been very accurate. But life goes on.
Divorce raises so many question marks:
- Will you love again?
- How will you live—both lifestyle wise, and financially?
- How will you parent?
- How do you see the world now and how do others see you?
- How will my social networks change?
I had no choice but to see that there are times in which I waste time worrying. Minutes and seconds. Hours. Days. Weeks and months.
Single parenthood required that in many ways, I shove off the fears that simply wasted my time and energy. I had to sink and swim.
To dive in and float or instead, dive in and power through.
Sometimes I float and sometimes…I tread water. Other times, I slice through with broad perfect strokes.
But one thing is certain: single parenthood will test who you are and how you will rise above and in every way, I am fighting to live the happiest life I can with my girl.
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women's issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women's Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com .