My ex recently tried to kill himself, and I don’t know what to do.
He had not called my kids in a week — he was to pick them up for their annual 4th of July weekend. No texts, no calls, no answer on his cell. I became nervous and called the police to check in on him. The sergeant got on the phone and informed me my ex had attempted suicide the night before my call — put gas on in his apartment and slit his wrists (thank God the neighbors called when they smelled gas).
He was in the psych ward for two weeks and now in a rehab program for alcohol abuse and depression. Now I have my kids full time. Since he is not working now, all child support stopped, and I am terrified of what the future may hold. I had finally given my kids stability, good schools, and I have a good full-time job after being a full-time stay-at-home mom during my marriage. I feel really alone now — alone with no breaks and in a financial paycheck-to-paycheck status because my ex was selfish and irresponsible. Thank you for listening. I have to vent to someone, and I have no real friends as I live in the burbs and everyone is are married and do ‘couple’ things. I’ve been dating someone for a year, but that is ending as he refuses to introduce me to his kids.
I’m scared, lonely, broke and exhausted!
Man, what a mess. I am so sorry.
Lots of single moms find themselves in crisis of some sort or another, and many of us have found we must parent alone — logistically, financially, and emotionally. Here is my advice:
Focus on what you can control: your home, your income and career, your social and romantic lives, the quality of time with your kids and your own emotional well being. You cannot control your ex. And once he gets out of the rehab program, you must take steps to manage that relationship differently, because he is unstable.
Buy yourself breaks from the kids. Sitters, send them to camp, relatives, whatever. Just get a break! No guilt allowed!
Earn big. Just earn a lot of money. You already proved you are capable and hardworking — so few SAHMs make it back like that. Just take child support out of the equation, and kick ass. Especially when your ex gets back on his feet, and starts paying support again, remember: He can stop paying at any time! DO NOT DEPEND ON THAT MONEY.
Get angry. This sucks and it isn’t fair. Go there, don’t hold back. You are entitled to rage.
Forgive him. He’s sick, yes perhaps selfish, and can’t deal. You can deal. So deal. Show your kids what it means to be compassionate and loving. And forgiving.
Find friends. You need support. This might mean moving to a different community. Elbow your way into the married-couples community, get some gay male friends, hang out with young, single people. NOT EVERYONE is married in your community! You need friends, support, a different man to date. By prioritizing relationships in your own life shows kids the value of friendship, love and relationship.
Hang in there. You have far more strength than you realize.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.