For the past two years, all I’ve heard is people telling me I should be with the father of my child, whether or not I feel love for him. When I ask people why, they have given me a variety of answers. Some of those reasons include, “Your child is going to have a difficult childhood with her parents separated,” “If you don’t find someone else, you will forever be alone,” “Love isn’t the most important thing in life,” “Being a single mother will be more difficult,” “He has no one else, what if he commits suicide?”
I’m sorry, what?
I was married for four years. I knew the moment we began our honeymoon that I shouldn’t have said, “I do.” He was different from what I expected him to be. We met while I was visiting family in the Dominican Republic and kept in contact when I returned to the United States. I fell in love with his words and empty promises. I fell in love with the fairytale, the illusion I created in my own head.
I gave my marriage a chance; I gave it all my effort despite being unhappy. I never cheated. I suggested therapy, and we even had a child. I realized once I was pregnant that I’d rather be happy and alone than married and unhappy. I want to be a great mother to my daughter, and in order to do that, I have to learn to love myself again.
I listen to people’s comments and opinions on my decision to leave my husband and I shrug and nod. It bothered me in the beginning, but now I don’t care because I did find love and happiness. I found it in my daughter’s laugh and her smile. I found it in myself. I used to be so afraid to take risks, but now I am doing things for ME. I am learning to let go of fantasy and illusion and learning to embrace reality.
My reality is that in the four years of marriage, I can’t remember a time when I was truly happy and motivated. Now I am happy, I still have struggles—what mother doesn’t? But I face those struggles head on and with a smile.
Yes, I left a marriage, but it wasn’t for another man. I left unhappiness for motherhood and self-love. Maybe someday I’ll find someone else to fall in love with. But when that time comes, I’ll be ready. I won’t put my happiness aside for someone else’s comfort. Self-love is really important, and that’s a reality I want to show my daughter.