Episode 1: Who I Am.

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

Welcome to the pilot episode of Smart Single and Unscripted. I am your host Stephanie and I thought that I would spend this episode giving you my narrative. At the end of the episode I will have a little call to action activity for you to complete, so you can better write and understand your own narrative.

Before I do that, let me explain the basis for the blog and what I hope readers gain from logging in and taking this journey with me. While I do hope to help as many people as I can with the content and material provided through the blog, the podcast and my website, I do have a targeted audience in mind, and that audience would be single parents, specially single mothers, who are looking for ways to empower themselves and reduce the stress associated with working, running a home, and being a sole caregiver. With that said, I do not want to put myself in a box and only reach single mothers. There are many financial tips and advice that I will share on my website and the podcast, that can help people of all demographics and in any seasons of their lives. 

You may find that not every episode or blog pertains to your specific situation and that’s okay. Podcasts and blogs are amazing because they offer the chance to provide stand alone material that can be consumed in any order and at any time. 

For this first post, I wanted to put myself out there and tell you who I am and why I am here. I am a single mother of a little girl, I work a full-time job in the education field, and I am in in my mid-30s. My life has been one of joy and pain, loss and gain. But, the one common thread that has been present through my entire life is resilience. There are several key events that occurred in my life that could have made me throw in the towel, made me choose the not-so moral path, and even events that tried to end me, but I am here today because I decided that those events would not define me, my reaction to those events would be how I chose to build my character. 

My senior year of high school, I took a job at a call center that required me to work 40 hours a week and demanded at times, that I work mandatory overtime. I was attending high school full time, so my days consisted of being up at 6:00am, driving to school, attending 7 classes, and then leaving school directly to work a 4:00pm-12:30am shift. I did this 5 days a week. That year, the very day after I graduation, I almost lost my life to a drowning incident while celebrating with friends. Had it not been for the quick thinking and actions of a friend, I would not have made it. That experience weighed on my mind for years, simply because I gave up fighting. I remember as I went under the water for what I thought was the last time, looking up through the surface, seeing the sun reflecting and thinking, “I am going to drown, die, and mom is going to be so sad.” It was that moment that I realize that I needed to toughen up because I was so willing to give up. 

I continued to work at the call center during college, where there were semesters in which I took 21 credit hours (7 classes). I had drive, I had motivation, and I had focus. My final year of undergrad, I took a weekend position at the University police station, worked my call center job, and applied and was accepted into an accelerated one year masters program. I graduated with my Bachelor’s on a Saturday and started the Masters’ program the following Monday. When I graduated with my masters’ I was almost three month’s pregnant, yes, interestingly enough, it was planned. What was not planned, was the loss of the baby at 16 weeks to what I later found out was an incompetent cervix. 

The years after college were a blur of a bad relationship ending, the PTSD of losing a child, living with the guilt that I had to sign the papers to have the baby aborted due to unsurvivable conditions, moving away from my family for work, and meeting and marrying the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, and going through another stressful pregnancy, this time with happier results. 

As with any of you, I think most of us can say many negative things about 2020. I will always look back on 2020 as the year that the world that I had known, came crashing down. Leaving me scared, divorced, embarrassed, struggling, and as a single mother responsible for everything financially and in regards to my raising my daughter, alone. 

This year, I have seen what a diagnosed narcissist will do in order to please himself. In the middle of a pandemic, I discovered an ugly truth about my spouse, a truth that devastated me and left me in a very embarrassed, confused, and vulnerable state. His actions had placed a heavy burden on me, in possibly what could be described as the worst time in modern history. 

I struggled for months and I am not going to lie, there were days I did not want to get up out of bed. In fact, there were days when I dropped my daughter off at school or daycare, and then I came home and slept until the time I picked her up. I was lost, I was alone, I was worried about our financial livelihood, and I was scared. Without going into detail, my spouse was in no position to contribute financially to anything regarding me or our daughter. 

Fast forward to today and I am about to put the family home on the market, not by choice of course, but in a means to finalize my divorce. My daughter and I are dramatically downsizing and purging the house of all things that will not be welcomed in our new place. I have had to trade my car in for one that did not have his name attached to it, because his actions resulted in legal consequences, which in turn, flagged our registrations. 

As I type this, there is a dumpster in my driveway ready to haul away broken toys and items that can not be donated. There is a brand new lock ready to be put on the tiny storage unit I have rented to pack items that I am not emotionally ready to part with, but that will not fit in our new places. 

The past few months have been emotionally draining. I have been back and forth on the decision to sell the house, knowing that not doing so, would mean I would have to stay married, something that I do not want to do. Selling the house, means moving my child out of the only home she has known, and one in which she thought she would stay in forever, with her sparkling bedroom and her swings in the yard. 

Sometimes, life hits hard. Sometimes we can get right back up and move on, but sometimes life delivers one knock down punch after another. Sometimes, your husband has an affair in the middle of a lock down, commits a felony in not one, but two states, and you lose your house…sometimes you want to fall asleep and not ever get out of bed, but sometimes…you take that hurt and pain, the sadness and grief, and you use it to create the best life you can give to your child. 

That is what I am doing, and I hope you will take that journey with me. Tune in next week for episode 2, a journey through grief and the loss of normalcy. 

Published by Stephanie Poling

I am a "lone mother", educator, divorcee, dealing with lone parenting during a pandemic. I just resigned from my full-time teaching position after thirteen years in the classroom. I embrace the lifestyles of minimalism and frugality and am looking forward to moving back to small-town America. Self-care has taken a back burner to all things important to me right now and I am on a 365-day journey of self-discovery. My podcast Smart Single and Unscripted launched recently and I am working on providing the best information I can through my experience with a trauma-filled 2020 to offer hope to single women who are barely hanging on.

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