Single mum Wendy on difficult times, new beginnings and how chatting online helped lift her spirits.
My life recently has been incredibly tough but I am dealing with it and moving forwards. I was a single mum, my marriage broke up after ten years but my ex-husband and I are friends, he’s a good man and a great dad to our 12-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
I was working shifts for the ambulance service, twelve-hour days or nights were hard but with great family I managed it and loved my job. However the nature of the work often meant being faced with life and death situations and it sometimes seemed like everything was always doom and gloom.
I met a man almost three years ago now. He returned the sunshine to my day and quickly became my best friend. My kids loved him and after a year or so we happily realised we were having a baby of our own. I gave up my job to move from one side of the country to the other, we felt it was a nicer place to bring up the children and he had twin boys from his previous relationship, so needed to be near to them. I left my family and friends and my great job but it felt right so I got on with life, feeling my career could be picked up along the line.
Until I found out last month that he never separated from his “ex”, they have been together twenty years, and are getting married. He’s left us and disappeared, no sorry no goodbye. His little girl is six months old and deserved better than total abandonment.
Need to talk
For a while I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt so bad – but I did feel the need to talk. It was during this time that I typed single parent into a search engine, and found Gingerbread’s website. I’m so glad I did. I find reading the message boards where single parents support each other uplifting and reassuring. When I posted my story, another mum replied to say she’s been through something similar. It can be sad and quite overwhelming reading about the difficulties others are having. But discovering that single parents are surviving, coping, finding the strength to get out of bed every day is so helpful. If they can do it, so can I! Sure Start, my health visitors and family and friends also show me I’m not alone and continue to give me amazing support.
My older children have been wonderful, we’re a team, the kids look after me sometimes. I don’t yet know many people in the small town we live in now but I am slowly meeting new mums and making friends. I’m doing an art therapy course and it has made me focus on what I do have, instead of dwelling on what I don’t.
I’ve signed up to courses to gain enough credits so I can begin to do paramedic training at university and get back to being my old ambitious self. I want to return to work, I find living on benefits as a single mum difficult and restricting. I’ve also accepted help to commit to losing weight, something I have struggled with all my life. I’ve almost lost a stone now and am having a gastric band fitted.
I need to love me again and I need to be healthy. It’s early days but I have to inspire my children to demand the best from their lives and strive to be successful. Above all I want them to be kind, thoughtful and honest people because they saw how sad lies and deceit can make us. It’s onwards and upwards because anything else is not allowed. Thank you Gingerbread for dedicating a website to opening doors to people like me.
For detailed step-by-step advice on everything from benefits and tax credits to childcare and your wellbeing, read our guide to separation.