By: Maria Karampelas
Unhappy Marriage Syndrome vs What does it "feel" like to be a "single parent?"
Most incorrect analogy I've ever heard!
Has anyone ever actually complained to you that they "feel like a single mother"? But in fact, they are supposedly happily married? I don't hear this very often but I have to say, I've heard it about 10 times in my life as a single/(or my preferred title if there must be a status attached), as an "only parent". I feel it's time for me to say my peace.
I actually find the relation of the analogy rather upsetting and insulting because isn't the purpose of being with-out the other person or singling yourself out so that you don't have stress from the toxicity of something that didn't work? I know as an only parent that I get to make all the decisions and I welcome them and I am free. If I ever find someone who I share an equality with and excitement about a life together, yadayadayada... then I would consider exploring that but for now I am a very happy "single mom."
To me-hearing that expression, "I feel like a single-mother," from the married person the other day, was the equivalent of hearing her say- "I am unhappy in my marriage and I am unsatisfied... My husband doesn't do enough to help me run the household and raise our child." and apparently there is a missing element there that some husbands are extra work and it is like having an extra kid? So, that also could be why she is upset. I think I would rather be a single mother. I understood what she meant but I did correct her in saying, "you are not a single mom, you have a dual income family. I am a single mom-"then I got cut off!!! I was going to offer the idea that maybe their family just has certain roles the couple have taken on- but she was closed- It was the end of the conversation because by that point, I was too busy doing what I was doing to listen to her rationalize it.
I wish these people did not think that being a single parent is unsatisfying or so awful. It can actually be very satisfying when you do it right. There are so many positives here that I have to share my feelings about it because I am coming up to my 10 year anniversary of being a single parent that I think I'm getting pretty good at it and there was a lot to learn along the way. To be clear I have been an only parent for just over six years- they have two different meanings.
I do feel that marriage is a wonderful partnership but when I hear too many of the repeated complaints that people I know aren't happy about something the couple is at odds with, I'm the first to suggest they cut the charade and get off the bus or work on it. I don't want you to read this and feel stressed out or offended afterward- I don't want anyone to think I'm singling anyone out either- but I feel anxious when I listen to people who are so unhappy with situations (or their relationships) or just life in general and then bring others in to it- in fact they bring in a whole society and then it becomes a statistic.
I'm just letting it all go here- Thanks for listening and maybe you can relate or learn something from this.
With this current feeling I'm trying to make sense of, I realize it has built up over the past few months in conversations with others- and it is not just one person that brings me to this page full today. It's built up from several conversations I have had with people who constantly blame other people for the way they feel and they are using their vulnerable state by looking for sympathy or something to suck the energy out of others and I want them to take some ownership and stop complaining at the risk of using the old expression, "I don't want to complain because no one will listen."
I think it started with a guy I met recently who was freshly separated from his wife and complained to me about her constantly. I asked him several times to change his energy flow and maybe stop talking about it so much, but he wouldn't listen. I basically told him he would end up with her again because he hadn't let her go. Anyway- I have no idea what happened there but I am certain they are still stuck in their toxic problems until they learn to fix them. My feelings got triggered hard the other day when a person I was speaking with said she felt "like a single mother," cause she does everything around the house.
Oh My Lord, really? You poor thing! I wish I was able to come up with a quicker response to that one- because it made me think (for three days) how does the way she feels compare to being a single mom- cause she feels she cleans too much? I don't feel like a single mom because I run my ship. I love running things the way I want to and I am very satisfied. I enjoy cleaning my house- I enjoy not cleaning my house. I don't feel sad about being a single mom and I certainly don't blame anyone for it nor do I ever ask for sympathy. Actually, it is awesome because I don't live with someone who makes me feel vulnerable or frustrated or overworked-children are exempt from this. I guess she wants equality in her relationship- but it is not about "feeling like a single mother."
Please don't bring me and all the other wonderful single parents in the world in to this. I know a lot of very amazing people raising children in a one unit home and they are doing a great job and they don't pull the "single parent card," too often.
When I start feeling trapped in some body's stuff, I will first drop a couple hints that means "I can't listen to this conversation." I feel I have worked too hard to get rid of anxiety in myself to have to sit here and listen to this. If you can't listen to my advice- because I have been there, done that and got the fucking T-shirt then I am ending this conversation- please pardon my sarcasm but go talk to a mirror.
I have to say, it started in my early 30's- or maybe late 20's. I opened my eyes. I have really worked hard on not letting other people's problems affect me. Honestly, it really has taken a lot of work and time and I have had mentors along the way and friends who have really helped me. I'm so grateful to all the positive reinforcements and to my network of friends and family. I have experienced some great loss and some hardship- but I've learned many lessons from them all. I plan on continuing to better myself and learning more about myself, others and how the universe works for the rest of my life.
I have learned to avoid bitch fests, not let life stress me out and to take ownership of my problems and look for "solutions within myself" to solve them- sounds simple and it actually is. I got tired of seeing the same problems happen over and over again. It has taken a lot of time alone, many psychology books, spiritual readings and changing my own thought process and habits in order to listen to my heart and myself to find solutions. Every once in a while people decide they should use other people as a sounding board as to why the world sucks. Now don't get me wrong-we all need to vent to our BFF's sometimes. But when it happens when we are not prepared is usually when I feel I am being tested on how well I can deal with the stress they are emanating toward me. I have to really grow a strength in myself at these times to pay attention and get out of the conversation unscathed. I still get irritated when I get stuck in these sort of conversations.... I just asked, "What's new?," I really didn't want to hear how sick you are or how annoying your husband is, what your ex did to make your life so difficult today or about that jerk woman at the government office who refuses to help you. We all have tests and we all have to jump through hoops. It's the law of the Universe. The only thing I ask is that the person who needs someone to vent to- is to listen in return. Is there a lesson in this? I only hope they learn to find a new coping mechanism rather than to complain and lay blame.
Find a way to end the cycle! To learn too much energy is being spent on the negative. While they continue fighting the feelings, there is no room for change. The only way to correct it is by doing the work. Or else the same pattern will continue until you, yourself learns a new way to deal with it. To some people this comes naturally. They are lucky. Others need to work on it and they reap great rewards.
I have tried to help some people to realize this but for the ones that just refuse to hear it, I have to step back as I have only learned how to do it myself in the past five years or so. I, in return will just say politely- "then, I don't want to hear your problems anymore." It makes me sound rather cold and uncaring. Really, I do care and I want to see them figure out the problem- but I'm not sticking around to help them and take in that bad head space. Until they decide they are ready to put their hands on their hips and learn to deal with their shit. I've actually ended a few relationships because of this problem. I have found myself being that rebound person only to see them move on to the next relationship and decide to get married again- hope they figured out their shit- or they are back with the ex. Yay- Awesome! Enjoy your misery.
When I find myself trapped in these situations it's so hard get a word in. To offer a thought as to how maybe you can change your reality to not let these problems occur in your life again. I would suggest, become friends with it and not fear the problem -they turn and are like, "No, no, no that won't work." Example; a mom I am acquainted with pushes her daughter to get to an extra curricular on time by getting stressed out and who knows- probably loses her mind and by they time they get to where they are going- mom's stressed and her eyes are about to pop out of her head and daughter has obviously been crying and lost another couple ounces of her self-esteem... Mom then complains to others that she is always five minutes late for everything because her girl doesn't move fast enough!?? . Hmmm, but she can't do anything to fix it? - A few years down the road the daughter will probably quit her extra curricular cause it's too stressful. Being able to relate with a similar problem when my girl was younger- I suggested she not let "time" stress her out cause it just makes everyone in the house more stressed. ---yes, I said it nicely.
I remember how stressful it was for me only a few years ago- to be five minutes late every day for school or work- so, I offered advice in how we dealt with it- I finally surrendered to it. I decided if my daughter wants to be late then I will let her deal the consequences of how it feels to sign in late at the office and walk in to class late and letting her "own" that one without apologizing and taking all the responsibility. To stop completely blaming myself and then beating myself up about it afterward. It's a very negative place to be and it actually takes "work" to overcome. Eventually we were on time every day for school and we had more time to get ready and there was no or very little stress. We started speaking calmly to each other and stopped arguing about senseless problems. Now, we are never late for school or dance- she is never late-she wants to excel and we have very little stress in our home- especially in the morning which used to be a very hectic time. This morning, she even woke me up, "It's time to get up Mama," she said so sweetly. It was musical to wake up to such a nice greeting, and I actually never sleep longer than her. I guess I hit snooze a few times as I was lost in a cozy dreamland. What a good feeling when you over come stress though!
Now, I do know there are always going to be challenges. And I welcome them now. I have the ultimate toolbox. I'm a warrior princess, donchya know?
I'm so glad my daughter and I are both moving in the same direction these days (most of the time) and when she or I decide to lapse we both quickly go back to the more desired time zone. When I tried to say this in an understanding way the other night to this mom- She abruptly snapped, "Nope- cause when I don't push her she takes even longer." So, I just said "Oh, that sucks." I guess she is not ready to leave that head space. And of course she only gave me like enough time for one sentence. All I know is that it's not a nice place to be and everyone is much happier (in my household) when we are not fighting time and each other. She probably even feels like a "single mother," like the other person I conversed with- but guess what? I think it means she blames her hubby for not helping or being home enough- not that she feels like a single mother-she doesn't know what that feels like- she hasn't done that- apparently it's easier to stay together!!??. I don't even get stressed if I'm a few minutes behind cause I'd rather get there in one piece or without blowing a gasket. So that's a part of this "Confession of an Only Parent" the topic I was feeling a bit annoyed by. I just knew I needed to clarify a few things and I am not trying to sound like a major bitch in this. Just setting a record straight.
To finish this off on a very good note, in between finishing up this writing, and going out for a walk today, I ran in to someone downtown whom I haven't seen in at least two years. I hadn't published this Blog yet only "worked" on it all day. It actually crossed my mind that I was going to get trapped in a conversation with this guy. In the past he has been known to have many demons and suffers with mental illness. So needless to say I've been stuck in a few intense one way conversations with him. But, he was smiling and looked good considering he has apparently been through a lot lately. I was pleasantly surprised by what he said. He said he was doing pretty good and "working on his stuff" lately! He was accepting the help available to him instead of fighting it these days and that he felt he was going in the right direction. I was so happy to hear those words from him. I was like- Wow. The Universe is amazing! That is what I'm asking by spilling my thoughts out here. He is doing it and he has received the message. So, it was good news and I am happy for him and I am happy that he is working on himself. We all need to do this. We shouldn't have to hit rock bottom or lose our health before we decide to take care of ourselves. The soul needs to be considered and everyone deserves happiness and love. Thank you for considering it.