R U OK?

image by Free 3D Clippart

How stressed do you feel?  Are you managing? Do you have any negative thoughts?

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, the workplace is creating more stress with 13% of people fearing for their emotional or physical safety in their job.  The highest group at risk is middle-aged single parents, or so says the national survey conducted by the campaign titled “R U OK?”

I query the survey and predict the outcome would be different if conducted on a larger scale. I do not feel anyone has the right or can pinpoint and decipher an ‘age group’ of who is stressed more than someone else whilst juggling work and single parenthood.  Technically anyone who is in a similar position would be facing the same challenges.  I am not a middle age person, although a single parent and found some of the harder times I encountered were when I was younger.  Over time I have become stronger, more assertive, and further balanced in life generally.  This is because of the experience and knowledge I have gathered over the years, not due to the age group I belong too.

The value in the article is when it discusses the importance of asking your work colleagues, family and friends if they are ok and to take note of any changes in behaviour as they can act as clues revealing something is not right.

According to ‘R U OK’ Director, Mr Cowan, ‘work stress has become pervasive, with many feeling it on a daily basis’.

Particularly surprising was that half of all people said they didn’t think management had procedures in place to make sure that little problems didn’t turn into big problems”, said Mr Cowan.

image by MLM Network Marketin

If more people are aware of those around them and take a little more interest, perhaps stress levels will reduce and more of us will feel supported and in control of our own situations.

I have found at times in despair not knowing where to turn. I have undergone counselling at periodically with a professional and within my personal network. I try to talk openly yet sometimes I am withdrawn and there has been occasions when all I have to say is “I am not so good” without elaborating, luckily my friends and family pick up the clues and checked to make sure I am ok.

The article is right in drawing attention to ways we can reduce stress and depression no matter which so-called group we belong too. Perhaps a simple question is all it takes, so I am asking you, Are you ok?

Lifeline – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

 

Why share what I know?

To write about the life of a single parent holds great interest to me as I live and breathe it every day.  I have experienced many aspects of single parenting both good and bad which has brought me much grief and happiness within my journey.

A single mother raised me with my twin brother and although I admire and respect her in so many ways, it was certainly not a position I wanted to find myself in. Before I came to the decision, and before I found the strength to tackle this journey of being a parent on my own, my first thoughts were I did not want to be a part of the statistics. I did not want my child to grow up in a single parent environment.  Something I have learnt and I stand by is that life has no guarantees. Ultimately, we have to do what is right by those we love and who we are responsible for as well as ourselves.

I have become someone who is assertive in life and I practice this nearly every day. I have found strength from being a single parent and know even at the lowest of times I can gather myself and keep going, because I have to. I witnessed firsthand a mother who overcame so many obstacles in her path to raise two healthy, loving and high moral children.  What is interesting is I have followed a similar path to my mother.  Not only by becoming a single parent, which obviously was not in my plan I have also taken on studies later in life as my mother did. I have created a career in which I am working towards expanding, and I have created an environment for my child I feel he appreciates and values.

Often people ask for advice and two common questions is how do I survive and how do I manage? Throughout my journey, I have had to search for answers and I have endured some horrific circumstances that have left me in a crisis.  In saying this, I have found benefits of being a single parent and one of these is the power within and the knowing that I can do this, and do it on my own.  Through my experience, I feel and hope others can benefit from my knowledge and my journey. I hope they may learn something, feel supported and not alone, and find strength and power within themselves.

I’m sorry!

Please do not say you are sorry. Do you know what you are saying sorry for?

Perhaps this statement is a little harsh without explaining the meaning behind it and I feel an explanation is in order.

Let me rewind nine years ago and when I became a single parent. My darling son was only 14 months old at the time. To finally make that choice
to be on my own emotionally and to act on it physically was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Although I knew in my heart and soul it was the right thing, it still did not make it easier. I was in the relationship with my son’s father for seven years. I met him when at the tender age of 21, I thought he was fantastic. We always had a fiery relationship and I do take responsibility for my part in the demise of the breakdown and breakup.

I am a Scorpio; very passionate with a sting. I am told more than once (I dare to admit) apparantly I have a look which can kill on the spot. I do tend to forget but I do not forgive and all this adds to my makeup of who I am. On the other hand of being a Scorpio, I am a very passionate person, I am extremely loyal, I am vulnerable and feel I put others first before myself. Like anyone else, there is good with the bad.

To get back to how I became a single parent; we were young, carefree and the only thing important was to have a great time which we did have…in the beginning. I was 26 when I fell pregnant. Some may say this is young, some may not; yet before this, I had travelled overseas (on my own), lived out of home for years, did the party scene for many years and basically had a fulfilling life. I was not planning on becoming pregnant, not at this stage in my life.  I felt totally blessed when I found out I was pregnant with my son as I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at the age of 19 and had already suffered two miscarriages. I honestly thought I could not have a child, and although I was not sure if I would be raising this child up alone, there was no other option than to keep him. I had a difficult pregnancy as I was sick 24/7 along with fighting food poisoning twice which both times lasted over two weeks. I had a virus throughout the pregnancy and in the last couple of months suffered sciatica. In addition to the ill-health I endured, I also suffered emotional, mental and physical abuse which only seemed to get worse as the pregnancy progressed. I will not go into details, yet it was absolutely horrible and I felt helpless. I did not want my child to become another statistic or go through what I went through having separated parents myself from a young age. I tried to make the relationship work, I did everything that I could within my power, but it was not working.  By the time my son had turned one, I knew what I had to do. One of the difficult areas of this breakup was that not many people knew about my secret life and what I had been going through. I felt responsible for my ex partner and financially and emotionally carried him for a long time after the separation as well as during the relationship.  I finally made the decision and acted on it.  As I had mentioned earlier, it was one of the hardest things I have done, but also one of the bravest things.  I really did not know how I was going to survive yet I knew my son and I would be better off than staying in an extremely unhealthy environment.

Throughout the time of the separation and even now when people find out I am a single parent, their response is…”I’m sorry”. Why be sorry? I can understand people feeling compassion, sympathy and empathy yet please don’t be sorry that I am a single parent. It is one of the best things I have done and from making this choice, I have created a happier, healthier, more loving and balanced life for my son and myself. I embrace being a single parent as I know how my life was and what it would have been if I had stayed in that situation.

Mind you, in saying this, being a single parent is probably the other hardest thing I have had to go through. I am still learning and feeling the hardship of being on my own raising a child. I feel there are many organisations, information and places for people in my situation, yet to find these is very hard. This is the reasoning behind my Blog. My vision is to provide information I have found beneficial through my journey as a single parent. Unless you are in this situation yourself, you really do not know what it is like. You can imagine, that is for sure, just as I can imagine what it would be like being in a two parent situation raising a child. I know it is something I want to feel and share with my son, to become a larger family. I feel in being a single parent, society can title us with a certain image, a certain persona which isn’t always right or fair. On the flip side, we can embrace this title as it shows we are strong-willed, a sound mind and we are quite powerful within our own right.

In thinking about another term to use rather than “sorry”, perhaps there is another word that could be used. To be honest, I am not sure of what that could be and maybe someone could suggest a term that we all feel fits just right?