The Trauma of Single Parenting

I read a social media post one day about a young girl who killed herself because she was tired of parenting alone. In her cry for help, she explained that it’s not that she didn’t love the kids. She killed herself because the pressure of doing it alone was too much to bare. The amount of single mothers who I saw sharing this post made it clear that this woman who took her life stood as a voice for the mommas who are at the end of their rope and holding on for dear life or at least for the life of their children.

I too read this post and felt this woman’s pain on a deep level. Most single mother’s are not single because they want to raise children alone. If a woman leaves a man after having children, it’s usually because the relationship was more painful than the thought of raising the kids by herself. The trauma from leaving on top of the pressure of doing it by yourself is a weight I wouldn’t ask even my worst enemies to carry.

I raise two children alone and have for most of their lives. “Girl! I don’t know how you have done this for so long by yourself.”, my friend told me when she got back with her cheating husband because raising kids alone brought out the absolute worst in her as a mother. “Yup. It’s the type of pressure that makes you fold or makes you stronger.”, I told her.

I wouldn’t say stronger is the correct way to describe what happens over time when you’re juggling multiple jobs, building businesses and raising toddlers alone. Coping, suppressing, betraying yourself, denying your needs is more like it.

What’s strong is what I have had to do to learn to love myself again. I was abused by their father, beat up while I was pregnant and mentally tortured until I finally left for good. I didn’t know the man was abusive until the day I found out that I was pregnant. That’s when it began. After leaving, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was suffering from cPTSD and that wasn’t even commonly discussed the way it is now. My brain structure had changed.

The first boyfriend I had after that was a trooper. It’s been seven years since we broke up and he’s still someone I talk to weekly. He stood for my healing and most men can’t get passed their egos long enough to see a good woman behind her wounds. The trauma was so bad that one day we got into one of our first arguments and he yelled. I got so scared that I locked myself in the bathroom and called 911 on one of the most patient men I have ever met. I was embarrassed for how I reacted, but in that moment my trauma told me he was going to kill me. The flashbacks got the best of me. God put him in my life during that time so I could see another side of the masculine.

We both grew apart over time and that’s the soul journey. More lessons needed to be learned, more growth to be had. I thought I was over the trauma of the original abuse, but suppression and mindset doesn’t heal the traumatic energy trapped in the body. I wouldn’t learn this until many years later.

My goal was to find a husband I could grow with, build a life with, someone who would love my children. That’s not something that is easy to find. A lot of men don’t want to raise someone else’s kids, even if the woman is made of gold. I had another meaningful relationship that didn’t last longer than a year. He wanted a kid of his own and I was too traumatized to have another child. I was certain before it ended that he was the one. However, as fate would have it, we went our separate ways in peace. There were a number of reasons this relationship ended, but most importantly, my destiny was leading to my ultimate healing path.

The next relationship made me realize that you can run from your trauma but the patterns will always slap you in the face and stop you in your tracks. You can be a “new you” with a new story on the same path of emotional destruction if you don’t face the reason why you attract abusers in the first place.

I hear people say that abuser are attracted to your light. That’s bullshit. Abusers are attracted to your lack of boundaries, your deep desire to be loved at all cost, your inability to love yourself and your naivety.

I learned this through some of the hardest times of my life being with this new person and even years after leaving. Narcissists and sociopaths want to suck you dry and then lie when you leave until the world sees you in the darkest light.

I’ll be single until the person who aligns with my highest self expression shows up.

I realized that wanting to do life with someone so desperately wasn’t the way to attract a partner in purpose. So I stopped trying to attract anyone.

Instead, I am on a mission now to love myself in ways I have never been loved and master single motherhood. I have realized that does not mean that I need to be super woman. I am done with believing that programming which forces women to suppress our intuition and lose the power of our eternal purpose. That is what drives single mothers to suicidal thoughts and some to action. This idea that we have do it all is bullshit. I subscribed to it and fell victim to abusers who felt like saviors.

Those days are years behind me. I have been blessed to have stumbled into the healing arts and read many many books on healing trauma for good. I have learned the power of breaking patterns, put my value into practice, pulled the pain from my belly and faced the demons I hid from for so long.

Years ago, I could barely go a day without breaking down. From glory to glory, I evolved on a soul level without pharmaceutical aid. I don’t suggest the hard path I have taken to heal, without the guidance of someone who can light the way. My intuition led me on this path and I had no choice but to follow. I did not know what a spiritual awakening was when I was called to heal. I didn’t see anyone online who I could learn from. I went into my heart every day and committed to doing whatever it took to grow. I havent been perfect, but I keep evolving.

The trauma of raising kids alone did not make me a better mother. I spent my savings on nannies just so I could think straight. The judgment from that created a wound of its own. So I tried without the nanny and felt myself slipping mentally. It was the trauma that made me irritable, overstimulated and unable to be present.

I was at the end of my rope some days and I knew I had to figure it out for the sake of the lives I was responsible for.

My drive to heal is what makes me a better mother.

As I did the inner work, true friends along the path came into my life. I began asking for help, something I wasn’t taught to do, especially if you weren’t paying for it. I was even shamed for asking for help by family. “Your mom did it alone! Why can’t you!”, I would hear. I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I couldn’t settle for just any lover with the hope of having relief. I knew I couldn’t keep going. The only path I saw of doing it alone was one that led to my grave. So I called on my friend family and my mom. My mom is a strong Italian woman. She’s gritty and worked hard her whole life. For many reasons, I had a lot of pride after having children. I didn’t like to ask for her help unless I was desperate. When I did ask for help, she knew I needed it, because that took a lot for me to do. I remember hearing someone clanking dishes in my kitchen one day so I jumped up to see what was going on. My mom was cleaning up the kitchen. I didn’t even ask. She saw me weak, a part of me I never showed anyone. But when you’re that low, you need people. I asked for support and they showed up every single time. Over the years, my friends and I began to raise our kids as one family. We each relied on each other. Through the hardest times, the kids went from one house to the other so we could lick our wounds when we had gone through something painful. My house became the safe haven. Our friend family would create a soul ceremony on the weekends for us to discuss healing, joke about life and let loose together. I was healing, through community, through the practices of breath work and meditation. Slowly but surely I was evolving into a better woman, no longer suppressing or trying to be superhuman.

Has the trauma dissolved after twelve years of parenting, most of them without much physical support? Not completely. Today, my daughter crossed a boundary and I went into in an emotional fit. Instead of yelling or saying too much, like I would do in a trauma response, I got up and walked out. I got in my car and drove to the lake that’s right around the corner. I called my best friend, a man who holds that masculine space for me. I cried. I was in a trauma panic. The pain of doing it alone was creeping in. I felt the dark thoughts taking over. “I am okay. Come back.”, I said to myself over the phone as he held space for me to come to center. I took some big deep breathes. I reminded myself that I am not alone. He kept affirming me. I did the somatic practices that I have learned over the years, all of which bring the spirit back to the body. Disassociation is the spirits way of protecting itself. I was getting there, leaving my body. After what I have been through, it’s a practice to maintain my peace.

What used to take half a day took me five minutes to bring me back to center. In these moments of panic, I have flashbacks of dark days. It’s not easy being a single mother, but there are ways to do it that are healing for the mother and the child. When I returned home after 20 minutes, the trash had been taken out, the groceries organized and laundry folded. I was able to speak about my feelings without hurting anyone else’s. My children have come to understand my healing process. My daughter asked me the other day if I was autistic, because I can’t handle too much stimulation. Little does she know that the abuse I endured is the type of thing that pushes mothers out of their Childrens lives, to addiction and to an unrecognizable state. For me, I have chosen the path of emotional intelligence, somatic healing and a way forward that feels right for my spirit. Instead of running, I face myself. In that, I have shaped the culture of my hometown. I have given back. I have lived in service with my kids by my side. I have worked hard in my own business as they have worked alongside me. They witness the results of truly healing and the power of unleashing your true spirt of resilience.

So my kids are learning how to express their feelings before we melt down. They learn from my example. They hear me when I say, “Guys I can’t listen right now, but it’s not because of you.” That’s been the biggest lesson I have learned– telling them it’s not their fault. I wasn’t that gracious at the beginning of my healing journey. I would yell a lot. I wasn’t pleasant. For their sake, I learned tools to help them heal from what all of us endured in the abuse from the past. I did EMDR with them. I do shamanic meditations, catharsis, and I have sat and let them tell me anything I have ever done that hurt them. Then I apologized even it was the smallest thing that made them feel unheard. Healing happens when our hearts stay open.

This journey has been long and I am sure it will be even longer. However, their well being matters the most to me. It’s better to help them deal with their emotions and model a healthy way of doing so that way when they are older they don’t attract patterns that will reinforce the beliefs that hurt them in childhood. I am not trying to be a perfect, gentle parent. All I am trying to is my best without hurting myself.

I have taught teachers the tools that I have learned and they reach out to tell me that the lessons make life easier at school. These are real tools for real growth.A child’s growth starts at home.

My son came into the kitchen last night sad. He said that he can’t talk to his friends about his feelings because boys don’t really talk about feelings. “I don’t have anyone who understands.”, he said. “I understand bub. Tell me.”, I told him. So he said that he feels weird at his new school because everyone is being nice to him. He’s used to being bullied back in our hometown. He had a hard time in the school system. “Are they really being nice or what?”, he asked. “Baby, they are treating you the way you deserve. You have been through a lot so feeling good feels awkward. That’s okay.”, I told him.

Most kids would sabotage a good thing after years of being hurt. Shit, most adults sabotage a good thing when they have been through a lot. I’ve been there. It’s important to learn how to say what you feel in a safe space so you can rewrite the belief systems that hold you down. That’s what we do in our household, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it’s messy. Today he came home from school so happy. His friend gave him a present. “Mom! People just like me. They give me presents for no reason!”, he exclaimed. This is how miracles are created. It’s not through fantasy and delusion. It’s not in toxic positivity. It is by going within, recognizing the pain and working it out until you can create a new reality through the relief you feel in dealing with the truth.

Post traumatic stress is real, but so is POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH.

I am here with my wounds and my scars as a witness for this truth. It’s a mind, body, spirit healing that occurs when you take the healing path.

This has become my life’s work, to help mothers see the light of healing, to help teachers speak the language of the soul, to help children express themselves clearly. I had a hard time understanding why I have endured such pain in my life. I used to wonder why I felt pain in every cell of my body. I learned that I have been honored to carry the gift of feeling.

For as low as I have gone is as high as I can fly.

I went through everything I did because Spirit knew that I would figure this shit out and heal. Spirit knew I was one of the ones who would have enough guts to help others find the way.

I urge you not to look for perfection in my life. You will be disappointed. Instead, look for the joy I carry. Look for the bliss I spread. Look for love I give so easily. Look for the understanding I offer. Look for the space I hold for people to unfold. That is what I practice. Perfection, that’s a trauma response. I am real. I mess up, but I ask forgiveness. I am not a hero. I am an artist. My life is the canvas.

Here’s to Redemption.

With the Deepest Love,

Paige Elliott

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