|24 Jul 2004 @ 14:14, by Susan Murray|
Dreams do come true if you wish hard enough.
Prayers are always answered with love.
I was 33 years old when I found myself having to stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life. I also had to take care of two young children, Christopher who was 4 years old and Suzanne who was 3.
My relationship with their dad had broken down irretrievably and, as we were not married, I was the one who had to move out and find somewhere else to live with the children. The only option available to me was to rent privately and there were hardly any suitable properties to rent locally. I wanted to stay local so Christopher could stay at his playschool; I wanted to keep things as normal as possible in their young lives. We were lucky enough to find a 3 bedroom house next door to the actual playschool!
I left that relationship with nothing but my children and my clothes. I had no furniture and no money. Luckily, the house was fully furnished, even though the furniture had seen better days. I received housing benefit so had no rent to pay and a weekly amount to live on from the government.
It was a hard slog, both emotionally and financially. I had never had to worry about paying bills at all in my life before so all this responsibility came as a big shock to my system. I had little to live on - but it was enough to exist.
I made sure my children were well-fed and clothed sufficiently and I gave them the best christmases and birthdays that I could. It wouldn't have been such a struggle if I hadn't used quite a lot of our meagre income on supplying my addiction to cigarettes and plying myself with alcohol on many occasions with the mistaken idea of blocking all the responsibility out of my reality.
It all proved too much for me to cope with. I found it extremely difficult and there were times when I felt that we would all be better off if the children went into care. I loved them dearly and felt that I just wasn't a good enough mother. Because of the stress of trying to keep our heads above water financially I was not at my motherly best. I had no patience with the dear souls and was continually shouting and telling them off. Yet, throughout it all they both knew how much I loved them. I always demonstrated my love for them, even in stressful moments.
I desparately wanted a man in my life. I yearned for love and security. As a result I had many boyfriends in and out our lives for a few years. Then I met Frank. It was a whirlwind romance but he offered me love, security and a way out of the emotional and financial mess I was in. I fell pregnant after 5 months together and I gave birth to Nathan the following year. Frank seemed to be delighted with his son and still wanted us to get married. However, when Nathan was 3 months old Frank disappeared and we haven't seen or heard from him since.
So I was left on my own with 3 children to raise. I still struggled financially and our house was cold and draughty. I prayed and prayed that another house or flat would become available. I tried to be thankful for the blessings that I had - I was aware that there were people far worse off than us and I just kept on hoping that something better would come along for us. At last we were offered another house. It proved to be more run down that the one we were in but it had more room and a garden so I took it. However, it was unfurnished so we moved in with only one bed and nothing else. My friend and my family rallied round and provided me with some furniture and a refridgerator and cooker. We managed though, and we survived it all. Money was still a problem and there were many times that I was threatened with having my electric, gas or water turned off because I couldn't pay the bill on one or all of them. I lost count of how many times the telephone was cut off. But I always made sure that there was enough to eat for my kids.
I still searched for a partner. All I had ever wanted was someone to love and who would love me unconditionally in return. I was still smoking and drinking, and I also had an issue with my body image. I was never obese but I always felt grotewque and unloveable if I was to put on a few pounds in weight. I basically hated myself. I felt I was a useless mother, I was ugly and unloveable and I beat myself up about the fact that I smoked and drunk alcohol. I suffered dreadful depressions and was on and off anti-depressants for years. Single motherhood really took its toll. I used to go past other family houses and wish I could have a decent place to live where I would not feel embarrassed to take people in.
I never gave up hope.
Relationships just didn't work out and I decided to give up and just concentrate my time with the children. A few months later I met Trevor. This was the one I had searched so hard and long for! This was the ideal relationship that I had prayed for for so long!! The only thing was that he lived and hour's drive away and had two teenage sons. I stayed with him at weekends and never wanted to go back home. I felt that my true home was with him.
Where I was living my next door neighbour took a big dislike to us when I moved there. She believed that a single-parent family living next door to her was going to be nothing but trouble and judged the situation before she even got to know us. Because of her dislike of us, she told lies about us to the landlord and we were threatended with eviction. We were now facing being homeless and it was really too much for me to take!! This was the last straw. I had tried to count my blessings and put up with the conditions that we had to live in for the last 8 or 9 years - we had had no decent home, no decent furniture, no decent clothing - but I consoled myself that at least we had a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food in our bellies. But this I could not come to terms with. I finally had a mental breakdown. I hated being a single mum - I was tired of the eternal struggle. And now I had found the love I had been praying for but we could not be together. There was not enough room in Trevor's house for all of us as well as his own sons.
Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a week of diagnosis the two elder children were going to live with their dad and Nathan and me went to live with Trevor. I could not have coped on my own with the children and the devastating effect of the treatment I had to undergo. Trevor wanted me with him so he and his parents and sister could take care of me.
It was awful all of us being split up the way we were. It took a long time for us all to settle down in our new ways of life. I went through my breast cancer ordeal surrounded by unconditional love from Trevor and his family. Christopher and Suzanne settled into life with their dad, and was quite happy coming to stay with us on the odd weekend.
I have come through the nightmare and out the other side free of the need for nicotine or alcohol. I no longer suffer from stress, I have no worries, I live in a comfortable decent house and so do the children.
And most of all, Trevor and me have the most loving, caring, strong and close relationship - the one I have dreamt about all my life.
I have been led from darkness to light.
From falsehood to truth
From war to peace.
My soul rejoices because the Lord heard my cry and led me to still waters and green pastures, just as was promised.
Never ever give up hope - your heart's desire is within reach.