In January 2021, I unexpectedly became a single mother. What was supposed to be the happiest time of my life quickly turned into the worst. However, through the haze of trauma and new motherhood, I knew I could have an opportunity to build the life of my dreams if I had the appropriate support in place.
When my daughter was four months old, my now ex-husband left us. It was single-handedly the most traumatizing experience in my life. However, something deep inside me knew that if I could get to the other side of the pain, I could live my life without compromising my happiness. There were a lot of things that needed to happen: learning to cope with trauma, going to single-income, and pivoting to a career outside of public education.
The first step I took was to determine what my daughter and I needed to survive before we could thrive. For me, that was managing my PTSD and sorting out my finances. As a mental health professional, I knew ignoring the pain would make it worse in the long run, so I found a safe place to heal through weekly therapy. I also knew that I could not live on my own and support my daughter without getting my finances in order, so I hired a financial coach to help me examine my values, goals, and ultimately help me work towards financial freedom.
Once I felt confident that I could emotionally and financially support myself and my daughter better, I switched to evaluating my career. I knew I did not want to work in education forever, but I was so overwhelmed with everything else that I didn’t know how to transition out of it. So, I worked with life/career coaches along with participating in a virtual personal development club (that I found on Elpha!).
These resources helped me figure out how to align my life and career goals. Lifewise, I wanted to continue to focus on my self-care and being a fully-present and available parent. Careerwise, I wanted to work for a startup-I love the innovation in not only the technology but also the benefits and work-life balance. It took about eight months to make the career change from education to a startup. I found my training in therapy made my emotional intelligence high and excellent listening skills. From working in schools, I had strong skills in developing procedures and processes, conflict resolution, flexibility, and understanding systemic change. My career coaches played a vital role in helping me expand my network, teaching me how to apply for jobs, and what to look for in a job so it fit what I wanted.
Throughout this transitional period, I seized, and created, opportunities to get closer to achieving my “dream life.'' These were all things I wanted to accomplish for years, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen until now.
Once I recognized that I had the power to change my life, my world began to morph from surviving day to day to thriving. Since receiving therapy, I am able to cope with stress better and enforce my boundaries. Over the past year, I was able to pay off more than half of my total debt and establish a healthy savings account. The personal development club helped me recognize and reflect on the small changes I could make to take care of myself as a single parent. For example, one change I implemented to start rebuilding my self-confidence was to tell my daughter on our drive home from daycare all of the things I accomplished in the day. Another change I made was “thinking time,” where I allowed myself time to think (literally all I do is sit or lay in bed and let my mind process what it needs to) instead of feeling stressed when I wasn’t “busy” doing something task-oriented.
I made the career pivot to an amazing company and moved to a city that I have wanted to live in for years. There are still plenty of things I still want to accomplish and change. And it has not been easy, but it has been worth it.
Take the time to look at your values and life to figure out what it is that you desire in life. If there is something you have always wanted to do, find your champions, and do it. There is always support to get you to where you want to be. You will never regret investing in yourself.