“Sometimes they’re lessons…sometimes they’re aspects of life.”
My friend Larson Langston said those very words to me as I shared with him how my recent roadblock in motherhood felt like a spiraling wound of trauma that resurfaced.
“Be gentle with your heart,” he told me.
I didn’t realize that I’d turned a part of myself cold and hard for some time, pushing through all of the roadblocks. It worked, though.
I spent the previous year wondering if I would be homeless again, and how I would find a job. Of course, that was in the midst of the pandemic. Even more challenging when you’re a single mother with full custody and whose child’s father lives out of state.
After losing my only safe space of residency where I wasn’t either verbally or physically abused (because my dear friend got COVID-19, and, of course, we both had to honor that dilemma), I toggled between couches at grandma’s and nights out in god-knows-where, wondering where the f*ck I was going to live and how the f*ck I would get approved for any living environment, given my current situation—little to no real income, no renters history, sh*tty credit, the whole gamut.
Not to mention, the four previous years of my motherhood life and my daughter’s first years of actual life itself were spent in traumatizing households. We house jumped often. I got up and left and had to change my jobs, to the point that new hiring opportunities would question my “inability” to retain a position for a sustainable amount of time.
It was not mommy groups, in-laws and parents coming over to check up, loving family dinners, or peaceful nights breastfeeding. I jumped right into motherhood thinking I would receive the support that I was agreed to. Not only did my idea of sustainability and trust shatter to pieces as I lost my motherhood initiations and rites of passages, but so too, birthed my solid vision on reality.
I had to grant myself the right to know that I needed a better life. And that I was not disillusioned, despite the world telling me I had it wrong.
I don’t know what happened. I guess all of the judgmental hate I had received from external outlets caused me to pull up the bootstraps on the boots I didn’t even own (had to charge those to my credit card too).
I closed down my heart for a while and threw my middle finger to the world (except for those friends who were angels disguised as humans, of course) and buckled down.
People who weren’t in my shoes would tell me, “This place is hiring, come check it out.” What they didn’t realize was that I could not make a living off of a low hourly pay, and it would actually be counterintuitive to my time, energy, finances, and well-being.
“Have you tried the women’s shelter?” It felt like a loving nudge, but honestly, I just wanted to be treated like a human. Does anybody really want a woman’s shelter, and not a warm, clean, private bed?
“Can you just put your child in daycare, so you have more time for yourself?” Yes, thank you for the tip. Because I have an extra 1,600 dollars just hanging around. Duh.
And my favorite one of all time, “When are you going to stop telling the story this way and spinning the wound and actually change it up?” Oh yeah, right. Let me just swallow my suppression, think better thoughts, raise my vibration, and wave my magic wand out of this. I love how attainable that feels.
Single mothers have a whole higher and heavier bracket of responsibilities than probably any living human on the planet.
Especially single mothers who don’t have shared custody, child support, regular parental help, mommy’s and daddy’s retirement funds, and so on.
I had single mom friends who would brag about their fully paid vacation time from their parents. Or how their family just pooled together to put the down payment on their home. Or cover their children’s school fees. Or take their children for a whole week so they can go get a massage or go on a date. I loved them dearly and honestly celebrated their joys. But I also questioned why on earth they chose to share that with me? The woman who went from one job to the next, to the next, for three years straight—whose big vacation was bedtime.
I had married women say to me, “I totally get it. My husband and I aren’t even getting along.” I would drill myself into a hole about how “awful” it must be to have a husband who loves you so much that he sacrifices his time to work and provide for a family so that you can stay home, watch your children grow, and not slowly die due to stress-induced conflict.
I’ll be honest, I was starting to feel like I was absolutely and wildly misunderstood. How could the single mother who gets help understand my dilemma? How could the married woman with a warrior husband know what it’s like to not even know if there will be food on the table this week? Unless, of course, if any of these women were in poverty on any level, then it’s fair to say there’s comparison. But none of these women were in those shoes.
I know all attempts at connecting were out of love. But my soul was tired. I needed to be truly witnessed.
What nobody understood at that time was that one step in one direction required 1,000 steps in another direction. I did work about six different jobs at one point just to get the flow of income moving through. Some of them were sh*tty waitress jobs where I was treated like dog sh*t, caretaking gigs where I was emotionally overlabored, and some of them were jobs that I loved and hoped would spark me into a better direction: teaching yoga, working with children, being a birth doula, and more.
Of course, that required me to put a good chunk of my income toward childcare, which would inevitably throw me out of the race for housing, an actual working car, or an education. Still, I f*cking fought.
Somehow, in the midst of it all, I felt like God put her hands on me and said, “Let me take some of this, dear.” She loved me. She saw all of the hard work I put in. She saw my long nights awake crying, writing my aching heart out. She saw me breaking down in the restaurant’s bathroom, trying to enjoy a night out with my daughter. She saw how my heart dropped when my car broke down, or I got sick, or my coworker asked to lend five dollars until they got paid—that I couldn’t even afford. She saw all of the times I was dehumanized and oppressed in the world around me. She did everything in her power to stop me from ingesting those poisonous beliefs about myself too.
I somehow found an apartment complex that took me in, despite everything. So I f*cking ate it up. At the same time, I finally found a resource that would offer me a loan to consolidate my debt and pay off the places that were eating up my credit (and somehow my dignity), as I struggled to get any basic human necessity because of it. In that, I was able to get a working vehicle that didn’t cost me 1,000 dollars/month to fill up while also taunting me with casual weekly breakdowns on the highway.
During this time, I had about two real friends who were both much older and wiser than I was, and I put my entire trust in them. I think they were angels disguised as humans too. I took the heeding call to hire a financial advisor, create an education fund for my daughter, get a retirement fund going, and return to school.
Of course, my heart and brain beat every other part of my insides up with doubt for a solid year. “I would never be able to achieve or afford any of this.” But I honestly felt goddess’s hand reaching for me to take a leap. I had the notion that, “Even if I can’t trust the world, I can certainly heed the calling of the divine.” And that’s about the only real relationship I had. It wasn’t with men. It was hardly with friends or family. It was with the higher and holy guidance constantly calling me forth that I loved, talked with, and confided in.
I lost a lot of friends. I lost a lot of my young adult life. I lost a lot of sh*t that was never actually serving me in the first place.
Somehow, I regained my dignity—my ability to be vulnerable and real. I remembered how vital it is to tell the truth and to not internalize my oppression, my lack, my scarcity. I also said f*ck the bootstraps and put on the black wedges because I liked my legs in those better.
I steadfastly removed myself from the circles that told me to “up my vibration” or “tell the story in a different way.” I naturally gravitated to the spaces that said, “I hear you. I see you. I feel you.” The spaces that embraced me in my wild, inevitable human struggle. The friends who brought me soup and left loving messages, volunteered to watch my daughter so I could shower for the first time in four days.
I also reclaimed within myself the ability to not feel like a powerless being, despite how overworked and tired I had become. I was a victim to life’s circumstances, but I also stopped letting that take over my head.
I was quite literally forced by the powers that be to redeem the piece of me that was sovereign and liberated from literally all of my dilemmas. Somehow, I rose up.
I can be both holy and human.
Struggling and achieving.
Broken and healing.
I guess I felt for so long like there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t obtain the bare minimum and the basic necessities to life that others could. I knew everyone always had their own dilemmas, but given that mine were the core needs to sustain living and security for me constantly made me feel like the underdog.
My mental health was fine. I knew how to make connections in the world. I’ve always been creative. I’ve always had inherent knowledge about health, spirituality, and children. My family looked up to me for wisdom. I was somehow the black sheep but also the well of information and love.
I guess I just realized that my struggle is in the worldly things. It’s probably because my soul came here to birth new worlds. It’s probably because I am more divinely guided—both feet in the other world.
So when the motherhood and life dilemmas struck a chord once more just recently, I felt like I failed. Like I did all of this sovereignty work for squat.
But I’ve got to be gentle with myself, like Larson said.
I’m declaring to no longer beat myself up when I’m struggling. It isn’t my fault. It isn’t because I took a wrong turn in my healing or didn’t learn the lesson. It isn’t because I’m not trying hard enough to up my vibration or take quantum leaps (because I’m doing all of the magic things and more). To hell with all that new age garbage!
It’s probably simply because it’s “an aspect of life.”
I guess we all have ours. Single motherhood is mine.
I am somehow both deeply challenged and inspired by it simultaneously.
I’ll take it.