Inner strength.

"You will never be truly happy with anyone else until you are happy with yourself. Love yourself first."

I would never have intentionally chosen to have a child by myself, but it sure has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. Under these circumstances I have learnt that I am capable, that I can achieve when I put my mind to something, I've discovered skills I did not know I had, but mostly I have learnt that happiness comes from within.

By being thrown into this deep end of total responsibility, I uncovered a sense of self-reliance and eventually kissed goodbye to co-dependency.

Nine months. Nine short months was all the time I had to turn my life around and prepare to take on full responsibility of another person's life. It was all down to me and that was incredibly daunting but I never questioned whether I could do it. I knew before he was even born that I would do anything for this child of mine. Challenge accepted!

Acceptance: I feel this is a key word here.

It took me a long time to accept the choice that Etienne's father had made. At first, I faced denial. I refused to believe that he would really turn his back on our child. I convinced myself that he would change his mind the moment our son was born. When that day came and he didn't show- that's when I knew that he had meant all of the things he had said and although I gradually stopped hoping for him to come back, I still hadn't really dealt with it.

I wasn't ready to give up trying; shamefully, I bombarded him with emails and photographs of our son, trying to convince him that he would love him if he just offered him a chance. 
I knew that if he was to meet our son even just for five minutes- he would adore him. I guess that's what he was afraid of; because if he fell in love with him in that moment, how could he possibly leave again?

I let go when Etienne turned 1. On his first birthday, I looked around and I realized that every single person in that balloon-filled, hideously noisy village hall, loved him. I caught him smiling and scoffing birthday cake, loving life as always, and although he wasn't able to vocalize his feelings that day, I know with certainty that he felt special and so very loved.

 Inevitably, there is a series of emotional stages to travel through; a process to work through; feelings to deal with; before you can reach the point of acceptance. But when you finally accept the situation for what it is, and you allow yourself to grow and develop from it; that's when you'll realize that you really don't need anyone else.As much as you might think you want them at times, you don't need them.

We are a hell of a lot stronger and more resilient than we realize. This journey so far has been a test of my strength and sanity and believe it or not, when it comes to relationships - I've had more heartache and disappointment since. Admittedly, I allowed myself to fall weak.  By putting up with an unhealthy relationship and allowing my emotions to be controlled by another person, meant I'd temporarily forgotten everything I'd previously learnt. I allowed myself to fall back under the belief that I needed someone else to validate my happiness and throughout the duration of that relationship I was stressed and unhappy. My negativity and lack of self worth was prominent in our home and I am not proud to admit that Etienne completely picked up on those vibes. 

Its a vicious circle because when you allow another person to drag you down and drain your happiness, you become weak. And when you're weak, you forget what you deserve and how much you're capable of, so you seek comfort and reassurance- but you look for it in the one person who is the whole reason you are weak to begin with. Thus, it's a downwards spiral. Until you wake up, find that inner strength, remove the toxicity from your life and take note of the lessons learnt along the way.

Only now am I realizing the truth behind this statement:

"Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person to control your emotions."

Heartache is a painful experience, it really is, but when we take control of our emotional well-being and allow ourselves time to heal, we soon adapt. And then we grow.

Though sometimes my vision is clouded and some days I'm not quite in my  "strong independent woman" mode, I soon bounce back and I know that I have grown from these experiences and that, actually, I wouldn't change anything in my past if I were given the chance, because every experience has lead to my understanding of self love and I aim to pass that understanding to my son as he grows up.

I'm all for teaching my son respect; to respect others and to respect himself.  What sort of role model would I be if I wasn't respectful of myself in that same way? 

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