When I decided to get married, I struggled with an overwhelming amount of doubt. I would try and ease my worries by telling myself that if it didn't work out, I could get a divorce. Just over two years later, my marriage stopped working, but getting a divorce wasn't as simple as I thought.
It took me months to find the courage and clarity I needed to start the divorce process. I had to think about which decision would make room for me to be the best version of myself and the best mom to my son. It was difficult, but I concluded that leaving my marriage would allow me to be the person I needed to be for both of us.
When I was finally ready to start the divorce process, we were at the peak of an unprecedented pandemic. I asked myself if I could deal with COVID-19 and the stress associated with divorce simultaneously. I also considered the limited staff at courts, delayed processing, and the fact that I was unemployed at the time. In the end, I decided that sometimes the best time to start over is when your world is falling apart.
Getting divorced during COVID-19 has been a blessing and a curse. While it has given me time to unpack emotionally, the reality of single motherhood has hit me like a ton of bricks. Social distancing means having to heal while being a full-time mom and working with no break in sight. Some days I want to lay in bed all day, listen to sad songs, and process the ending of my marriage. But instead, I have to cook for my son and keep him engaged. Because of this, I compartmentalize my grief all day, leaving it deal with right before bed or in the early hours of the morning.
The hardest thing about getting a divorce during the pandemic was that there was nobody to care for me or my son. I couldn't ask my dad who lives ten minutes away to watch my son because he is elderly and high risk. Instead, I had to learn what self-care truly meant and give it to myself with all the intensity I could. I had to do everything the best I could as an isolated single mom. This was where the blessing was.
Because the world was at a standstill, I had to face my pre- and post-marriage trauma and do the inner work to heal. I would make the most of my biweekly therapy sessions, journal every day, work out, and replace junk with healthier foods when I'd comfort eat (most times). I would reach out to friends and family when I was lonely instead of trying to cope alone. I would allow myself to cry without telling myself "everything is going to be ok." Some days I felt like a broken piece of china, and I told myself that was fine.
I learned to give myself hugs and comfort myself through tough days and nights. Maybe most importantly, I learned how to honour my feelings and how to rest. Some days the motions of motherhood were so overbearing that I felt nothing at all. Other days I had to sit in the pain and grieve, which meant I couldn't be an engaged mom, and that was OK.
Better days came, bringing meaning to the saying "joy comes in the morning." On such days, I would wake up and celebrate new beginnings by baking cookies with my son or dancing with him to the demo music on his keyboard.
Although my son is two and has no understanding of what's happening, the guilt of raising him in a single-parent home sometimes pricks me. In moments of silence, I wonder what questions he'll ask when he's old enough to understand. I worry about whether I can provide answers that won't trigger trauma for him. I wonder how I'm going to survive the next 18 years doing this alone — how I'm going to make a "broken" home whole. The last thing I want is to perpetuate this struggling Black-single-mom narrative. But then I remember I survived yesterday, and I survived today, so that means I'm likely to thrive tomorrow.