I graduated with my MSW in 2015. I should have been excited, proud, and hopeful for the future, but instead I was broke, unmarried, living with my verbally abusive relationship ch and 2 months pregnant. I would have never thought I would allow myself to get pregnant before I was married but here I was sitting on my couch, holding my belly, depressed.
Staring at my degree.
No More Miss Fix It
When I found out I was pregnant one-month before I graduated, I felt so guilty. I knew I was bringing my daughter into a world with parents who were in a toxic relationship, had no stable living situation, were depressed, and completely financially strained.
I felt like I had failed her before she even took her first breath.
The day my daughter was born changed everything.
My goals changed, my values changed, and my purpose became clear. Even though I was still in a broken relationship, my depressive symptoms faded away the moment she latched to my breast as I held her in my arms. Her father on the other-hand did not find the relief I did. His alcoholism became worse and he became more verbally abusive. Every drunk night became his opportunity to disclose everything that he did not like about me.
Even through all of the heartache, I still wanted to make the relationship work, but overtime, I lost the energy to be the one to fix it again. After suggesting we speak to a Social Worker, (he was not interested), I resented him and slowly began giving up on trying to stay strong for the both of us. I started investing all my time in my daughter and my brand and completely neglected him.
I was already behaving like a single-mother before we actually broke up.
I remember looking at him and thinking "this relationship is the complete opposite of everything I advocate for." One night, one of our many arguments went too far. He threatened me, called me out of my name, and belittled my motherhood. I kicked him out.
I officially ended our relationship.
Many stay in toxic relationships because of fear; fear of starting over, fear of growing old alone, fear of being alone. I made the commitment to myself that I would not allow my fears to allow me to settle for a man who did not value me.
Looking back I now know these are the reasons I chose single motherhood over remaining in a toxic relationship:
My Diminishing Self-Esteem
Before my daughter’s father and I broke up I took a lot of shit! Don't get me wrong, I am not some perfect human but I was sick of being bullied, bashed, and belittled every time he drank a little too much. He may have forgotten his words, but I remembered them all.
His Increasing Unkind Words
I'd begun thinking of myself as less than instead of more than enough. I was adapting all of the negative and hurtful things he said to me and making them my own. NO MORE. Where I once tolerated certain behaviors, I now have zero-tolerance. No bs, no exceptions. Building my self-esteem and my confidence in my single-mom life was and is a major part of my self-love journey.
Learning to Love My Lonely
I never liked the idea of being alone. I thought if I was alone, there was something wrong with me. The feeling of loneliness, while in the relationship was part of what revealed to me I was in a toxic relationship. I felt more alone when I was with him than when I was by myself.
I never thought I could enjoy my alone time, but when he was away from me, I stopped missing him and started enjoying my space. I could feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders when he would leave. Recognizing this shift inside of me was a wake-up call.
Defying my Self-Neglect
When I made the commitment to do what my heart and soul desires and to make self-love a priority two things were revealed to me:
I had been neglecting myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually
I was with someone who was more interested in changing me than loving me
Self-love had become essential in my lifestyle, and the more I prioritized myself, the more we argued. It became evident that this man did not want me for me, he wanted me to be the woman he wanted me to be.
Even when I am in a relationship I cannot neglect the single lady inside of me.
By focusing on self-love, I have been able to find the courage to let him go, reflect on how I got to this place in my life, and forgive myself for the choices I have made. Self-love is more than bubble baths, drinking wine, and manicures. Self-love is about tackling the cracks in the heart and embracing the past instead of running from it.
Removing The Bad and The Ugly
The signs were always clear I needed to end my relationship. I would pray to God for a sign and then completely ignore his answer. Here are some of the signs that I was given:
· Yelling and screaming at him in front of my daughter
· Every time he hurt me it was my fault
· He told me that I was never there for him, supported him, or helped him in anyway
· When I accomplished something, he never really got excited
· I was always making excuses for him or lying about how happy he made me in our relationship
· I stopped doing all the things I loved
After the relationship officially ended, I knew I was afraid of being alone and starting over, but
I had to ask myself if settling was more important than my sanity.
I discovered my “inner mean girl.” She was the reason I settled for so long. In the quiet moments when all I could think about was my daughters’ father, my inner mean girl reminded me of how easy it would be to raise a child in a two-parent home. The chores, bath-time, preparing meals, going shopping at the grocery store, working out, and bedtime would be so much easier with him there all the time. I decided I would rather struggle doing more by myself than to stay committed to a toxic, abusive relationship because it was easier.
Healing Over Everything™
In order to be able to take care of my daughter to my best ability, I had to really begin making self-love priority by pouring into myself and filling the holes in my heart I had neglected for so long. By focusing on self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-trust, and self-forgiveness I have opened the door to a new me. I am truly falling in love with this renewed woman I am becoming.
She is a badass, she is zero-tolerance for bullshit, and she is showing up for herself in the best way.
If it is not in alignment with my heart and souls desire, it has to be removed.
It took some time, but I am at the place where I would rather be alone than to settle.
Being a single-mom, even with financial support is extremely difficult, but there is no room for settling in self-love. I didn't plan on being a single-mother but I am no longer ashamed of my past choices. I am accepting my relationship status, I am living in my truth, and it feels good to finally be showing up for myself.
Ta'lor Pinkston is the CEO and Founder of LADYHOOD journey, LLC, Self-love Coach, Lifestyle Blogger, Speaker, and Poetess. She has a BA in Creative Writing and MSW from California University of Pennsylvania. Her blog focuses on helping women, college girls and mothers to prioritize Self-love, be advocates for Women Empowerment and focus on Healing Over Everything™.