When I was single, I decided if I wasn’t married or engaged by age 30, I’d make a withdrawal from a local sperm bank and go it alone. Deep down I wanted a child then I got pregnant while dating.
I chose to keep my very first ray of sunshine. Nearly eight years later we had our second ray of sunshine. Seven years later I was a widow. This was not my master plan.
Together my husband and I were supposed to grow old; see them graduate; attend their weddings; and experience grandchildren. Instead, I was destined to raise my kids alone.
Relatives can be cruel
Society implies divorcees, widows and other single parents have plenty of family support. I came from one dysfunctional family and married into another dysfunctional family.
I had no local support whatsoever despite all four grandparents who lived locally. I was made to feel as if I divorced my late husband except the extra rub was both sides rejected me.
My parent’s divorce was a nightmare
My parent’s separation and divorce was ugly. Mom was a drama queen while Dad was aloof. He devoted himself to startups while mom was stuck with us. She bad mouthed him left and right while Dad could care less about her. Neither focused on their children and how they felt. There was plenty of pain to go around.
Both scenarios present unique problems slathered in deep pain and sorrow. When a parent has PTSD everything is magnified. A single parent with PTSD is dealing with overwhelming loss and pain as well as their trauma-laden history.
The tinder box
When PTSD is in the mix it’s as if a forest fire is sparked where there hasn’t been a drop of rain for decades. Wildfires destroy lots of territory before the first firefighter ever arrives. It’s not until the fire marshal flies over the forest that an accurate assessment and strategy can formulated.
At the fire’s onset I am on the ground trying to fight my way out of trouble. In the heat of the moment, I don’t think I have any equipment or supplies, much less a fireproof shelter for when flames overtake me.
I am blind, deaf and dumb. I don’t know what I need because I’ve never been here before. What’s worse is I don’t think there is any help available, so I cower and accept this situation believing it can’t get any better.
Real hope is available
I come bearing good news. There is a way out. There is help. You are not alone. People like me are blazing a trail ahead of you. We are healing, writing and talking about it.
Of course, there are forces we cannot see working against families like ours. Families are the foundation of society. I am zealous to support families because it’s a life and death proposition. As long as families are in crisis, society as a whole will remain in crisis.
Flight attendants remind us when the oxygen masks deploy we must put on ours first then tend to our kids. When parents begin healing families begin healing. Where there is healing there is hope.
If this sounds impossible it’s likely because of a PTSD history. Don’t give up. Don’t EVER give up. All things are possible.
You are a good parent. If you’re reading this then it’s likely you need help finding that good parent in you.
Posts in this series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD
For single parents
A tribute to single parents