Single Parent Spotlight: Lessons in Faith, Love & Forgiveness #SingleParentJoy

1

Today’s Single Parent Spotlight comes from a wonderful single mom I’ve had the pleasure connecting with online and has provided me endless support and encouragement. Kelley is a single mom of two amazing sons – Darian, 22 and Ryan, 18 and has a grandbaby on the way!

I have finally reached a point where I need to explore the lessons that I continue to learn about faith, love and a healthy dose of forgiveness.

In the years since my divorce all three of these things and more have been tested and pushed to limits that exceed one’s wildest thoughts. My faith in others shattered when I watched my marriage fall apart and friends turn away.

My Faith in God stretched to the limits and I wondered how much longer must my family and I had to suffer the pain and loss.

I have watched love walk out of my life; I spent countless days, weeks, months, even years in tears questioning my mere existence and why love seems to elude me. I have watched my faith become tested to the point where I once stopped going to church Without any reason or realm of understanding. Only later I realized there were/still some unresolved feelings where the church is concerned. Over the course of this year it seemed as if every time I pushed forward my faith was tested even more and I was knocked even further back.

How do I stand for Christ when at times it was almost as if He were not there? As if He left me hanging…I felt so alone for many many months. There were times I honestly questioned if God was truly listening to me. These turned out to be some of the darkest days in my walk with Christ.  BUT GOD!!!… How do you have faith when it seems like everything is against you, even God?

For months I struggled. I struggled with so much when it came to the act of getting out of bed and setting foot in church.  It was a struggle to insert myself in the midst of church folk when it was church folk that scorned me. I tried after my divorce but it just didn’t seem to work. I tried to connect with ministries within the church but felt out of place on every turn. I tried to talk to leadership but it fell on deaf ears. While I struggled, I kept praying, kept crying and continued to wonder ‘what in the world was going on with me?’…

While my faith was truly tested, I never lost it. I continued to hold on to God’s unchanging hand, even when it seemed as if God was silent the entire time.

2

Now let’s visit this thing called LOVE. Love is such a powerful word. I tell my two sons I love them daily.  That is the love that only a parent can give. I tell my best friend that I love her – that is that brotherly/sisterly kind of love. I am surrounded with these two kinds of love on a daily basis. 

It is that Eros kind of love that was badly damaged for me. That’s the kind of love where you have love for your spouse. I had that kind of love once before. I cherished it. Thrived in it. It was powerful. That all vanished when my marriage ended. Our love was damaged to the point where I thought that I would never love again or even want to love again.

For a long time, I was scared to open my heart up to love. I ran from every aspect of this type of love for a LONG time. It was a few years ago when I realized that I was open to the possibilities of love again. I am still shy about the entire thing but I am willing to give love a try. It was in this time that my heart was restored back to God to allow even the thoughts of love to enter my heart again. 

My heart was so badly damaged after my divorce it truly scared me. Can you say convent? Navigating through the ugliness of divorce and even when things got better, I found that I had to learn to let go of the ugly, let go of the bitterness, and resentment. I had to learn to love again. Learn to trust again. I decided I had to learn to love my ex again…in a different way. No longer do I love him like a wife loves a husband, but I love him. I love him because we have history, I love him because he will always and forever be a part of my ‘Story. There will always be love for him, but it’s different now.

Through my faith being tested and my poor heart taking a beating, I had to grow to the point of forgiveness. Yes forgiveness! In the midst of all of the ugly, all of the hurt and the pain, I had to get to a place in my life where I could let go of it all and move on with my life. How do I profit from holding on to the ugliness of my divorce? What do I gain from hating my ex and his wife? Not a darn thing… It gets me nowhere (except maybe a headache and an ulcer).

When we harbor unforgiveness in our lives, it becomes this invisible hold on us. We are unable to function and move forward because this weight of unforgiveness is holding us back. I can truly say that I have forgiven and moved on with my life because now that Ryan’s dad (my ex) has remarried. I am truly happy for him.  I came to the conclusion that he decided to marry this woman and she is now a part of my son’s life whether I like it or not. I chose to accept it and be positive about it. Why?  Because I needed to let go and because of Ryan. Because I forgave my ex and his wife for everything that surrounded our divorce I am able to accept the fact their marriage.  I thank God that she is very supportive of Ryan and his dad’s relationship. She is also understanding that my ex (her husband) and I will continue to have contact because we are raising our son together. Through time and lots of prayer, forgiveness has come, reconciliation has taken place. I have reconciled with my ex because we have an awesome child to raise.  The last thing our son needs to see is his parents (and step mom – yuck I don’t like that ‘step’ term) at each other’s throats. Co-parenting presented it’s own set of challenges for us but I like to think we overcame them. Are we best friends? NO. Do we agree on everything? NO. Do we work to find the best solution together? We darn sure try.   

I will say that 8.5 years later, my sons are practically grown. My oldest is 22 with a baby on the way and my youngest, now 18,  will be graduating from High School this year. It has been a challenge yet I rose to the occasion and raised two exceptional young men. Their dad and I are in a good place and I remain grateful for my life.

If you ever wonder if you have ‘truly’ forgiven someone, ask yourself this question:  ‘Do I still get upset, angry, emotional when I think about the very thing that caused the pain?’ If you don’t react when these events come into your thoughts, then you have forgiven. For me, I know that I have moved on because I am at a place where my ex’s new wife is welcomed in my home with no issues. I know that I am at a better place because I am finally at peace.
Thank you Kelley for sharing your story with us and reminding me that while forgiveness seems impossible at times, it is possible and necessary. Kelley’s faith has kept her grounded and focused as she’s navigated the waters of single life and raising her sons without a partner. Kelley is amazing and I encourage you to connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



sig

Join me this March to Celebrate Single Parents #SingleParentJoy

Join me this March for Single Parent Awareness Month (1)

Through this blog I’ve been able to share my deepest and darkest fears, my triumphs and all the stumbles and successes along the way. Vulnerability has been challenging. Yet, necessary for growth. I’ve opened up my life, my story, my heart as a means to create community. To remind one another that we’re not alone, because I’ve faced many days feeling as if I was.

I became a mother 10 years ago.

I became a single parent almost 9 years ago.

My life has never been the same since I first saw my 6lb 14oz daughter’s black hair and wrinkled skin. And I wouldn’t change a thing. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you may have noticed a new movement I’ve created: Single Parent Awareness Month. I had no idea that March 21 was Single Parent Awareness day – but I said a day? No, no. That won’t work. So for the month of March please follow along for inspiration, stories and most importantly EMPOWERMENT for single parents who are often isolated and judged.

Join me this March to Celebrate Single Parents #SingleParentJoy from Alexandra Elizabeth on Vimeo.

I could think of no better way to introduce this movement to you than a vlog. I spent hours teaching myself Adobe Premiere to edit this video – it’s not perfect and of course the little one is clearing her throat in the background. But it’s real. It’s my story. I share the most pivotal moment in my motherhood journey – my daughter’s birth story and then my journey into coparenting and why I wanted to start this movement – this tribe.

Single moms and single dads….you are enough. You are not alone. I know it can be tough and frustrating, so let’s support one another. Let’s be each other’s tribe.

If you’re ready to join me please follow along on social media and use the hashtag #SingleParentJoy. It’s not meant to insinuate single parenthood is an angelic journey. But the reward? The joy of watching your child grow and learn and become their own person. Now that’s something to celebrate.

Please reach out if you’re a single parent and would like to partner – I’m always looking to connect with other single parents to enact real change. Because I believe when we empower a single parent, we can change the world? And if you’re one of my awesome readers who isn’t a single parent, betcha know one – so please send them my way :)

Are you with me?



sig

Don’t Wait to Live Your Best Life NOW!

photo © Lovely Valentine

Once upon a time I felt invincible. As if I was cloaked in confidence with a clear purpose that enabled me to be extremely self aware, refusing to accept any limits on what I could achieve. I knew where I was going and there was no question that my dreams would be fulfilled. It’s as if I ate, drank and slept a limitless supply of awesomesauce that that I could see and tap into. I lived. Once upon a time.

It’s been some time since I felt such energy and fulfillment, and I’m not sure I know what it feels like anymore. I can’t pinpoint a specific date, but there came a time when my confidence reserve ran dry. No more confidence. No more purpose. Leaving a vulnerable and unfocused drifter  often scared and fearless. Where was I going? And seemingly overnight, my hopes for success and gratification vanished. What was left was a woman, a woman I couldn’t face in the mirror. I let her down. I let me down. I immediately felt as if success wasn’t attainable – that I was destined to struggle for the rest of my life. That I had no control over what the future had in store and I was merely a passenger in my life.

The combination of balancing serious health issues, single parenthood, a dysfunctional extended family and an evolving relationship took it’s toll. I had enough. Instead of finding a plan B, C or D I did something I’ve never done. I accepted my situation as my life, for life. Instead of viewing my current situation as a setback or hurdle that could be conquered I saw the opposite, resulting in crippling fear of anything new and unfamiliar and a need to be alone all the time. When I looked in the mirror, I had no idea of the girl staring back at me. I refused to face who I’d chosen to become.

I realized too late that “our soul and psyche need breathing space – a respite from leaping from one to-do to the next” and that feeling unhappy was something I refused to accept as normal. I hid in the background and was waiting for someone else to make my life better, as I assumed I didn’t hold the resources necessary to truly change my life and hone in on my passions.

For weeks I’ve been asking myself “Alex, what are you waiting for? What is holding you back from living the life YOU want?” I have a ton of reasons: family commitments, fear of the unknown, lack of confidence, money and most importantly the fear of greatness. The stress and doubt has cumulated and created a nervous and scared girl weary to make any changes in her life. If I couldn’t see the next step, I couldn’t move forward.

While commuting to work this morning I thought about the choices I’ve made (good and bad) and how when I lay my head on my pillow I feel something missing. So I proceeded to call my estranged Mom, my estranged sister, my 94yo grandmother and my Uncle whose son committed suicide just before Christmas. I craved comfort from those who had both challenged and loved me fiercely. To achieve I knew I needed support. Most conversations were full of tears but left me with one crucial takeaway:

DON’T WAIT

Don’t wait to tell the people you love how important they are to you.
Don’t wait to try something new.
Don’t wait to live abundantly.
Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Don’t wait to celebrate you.
Don’t wait to soar.
Don’t wait to LOVE YOU.

I’ve struggled with constant feelings of disappointment and not being good enough or adequate enough for many years. I often feel inferior to my peers and find myself miserable more than happy. I couldn’t see the power I possessed. I couldn’t see the love I had to offer. I couldn’t see my purpose. And now I know that “only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

Whatever obstacles you face, regardless of how fearful you may be – put in the work in first loving YOU. Appreciating YOU.Feeling fully at peace in your soul will open up opportunities you couldn’t ever have imagined. So, DON’T WAIT. Go out, achieve, ask for what you want and don’t stop until you get what you deserve. Because, you are worth it.



sig