I was on the wrong tack
The need for us to separate didn’t hit me hard one day after an affair or other unforgivable offence. It crept up on me slowly, bit by bit, every day sinking me that bit further into a feeling that I was on the wrong track.
It probably started before we got married, and definitely before we had children, but for some reason I didn’t notice it then. I started to feel it after our twins were born. He was a doting father and cared fiercely about the boys. But like most things in our partnership, our approach to parenting was just different – sometimes wildly so – and we ended up disagreeing about everything from room temperature, to food consistency, to what clothing was suitable for the weather. Nothing major, but just a constant battle every day of disagreements and snipes at each other. We were both great parents in our own way, but somehow couldn’t see it in each other at all.
As the boys got older I developed the realisation, and strength, that I needed to leave him. It nearly happened just after the boys’ 2nd birthday, but that ended up being a false start. With hindsight I can see that what I thought would work, in terms of my job and how it fitted in with childcare and commuting, really wouldn’t have worked at all. I feel that the Universe stepped in to bring us briefly back together to warn me I didn’t have things worked out quite right.
We talked, we got back together, and we tried again. It was fine for a few months but the cracks didn’t take long to resurface. This time when we talked about it, it was almost like a joint surrender. We’d tried, we’d failed. We didn’t hate each other, but we weren’t really sure we loved each other any more either, and we certainly weren’t making each other happy.
For practical and financial reasons we lived together for 4 months after the decision was made. Those were the hardest 4 months of our whole separation. Harder than trying to make it work. Harder than going our separate ways.
Decision made, but in limbo. Living together, parenting together, but not being together.
I already knew that I wanted to move back to my hometown in Cornwall – 250 miles away from our life in London. It meant that we would be close to my mum, and I was hoping it would feel like home in a way that London never had in the 9 years I’d been there. It was the missing piece of the puzzle that I needed to make sure I actually left him this time.
The main downside was that jobs are harder to find down in Cornwall. I’d been working freelance for a year anyway, but the kind of short term contract jobs I’d been doing, although flexible and part time, only existed in central London.
But then, things suddenly started shifting. My work contract finished and wasn’t renewed. Before I even finished my final week I was invited to work on a freelance project which could be done from home and paid more than my previous jobs. It wouldn’t last forever – in fact it lasted just until the end of those 4 months of house sharing – but it made me realise I could do this. I could make a life for myself away from the city.
I made the break in September 2013 and moved to Cornwall. I remember sitting on my bed on the phone to a friend a few days after I moved in, looking out the windows at my new beautiful garden, and just knowing I had made the right decision. It was the first time in years that I felt I was on exactly the right track. The feeling of wrongness had lifted.
Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing. I found, and still find, lone parenting my twin boys (now 4 years old) a lot harder than I expected to. But one of the great things to come out of this is that their dad is very involved. He has to travel 250 miles to see them, but he does that every few weeks. He stays at our house for a couple of nights, and I go and stay at my mum’s while he’s there. It works really well. They even stayed with him in London for a few weeks in the summer holidays, and have been abroad with him too. It’s sometimes hard to let go and not worry constantly while they’re away, but I have to trust him. And a big positive is that it gives me a break to recharge after the full on-ness of 24/7 single parenting. And it allows them to spend quality time with their dad and his parents and family.
As for work, I’m still self employed and I’ve spent the last year adapting and experimenting with my business. I’ve gradually moved away from consulting with big businesses and now work more online. For a long while I wanted to help other mums in business, but struggled with exactly what I had to offer them. And then the obvious hit me – a dream I’d had since childhood to ‘be a writer’. So I now use my writing skills as a freelance copywriter for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I have big plans to build my little business into a creative communications agency in the future, but I’ll work on that when the boys start school in September.
For now, being paid to write for other people is a dream come true – a dream I’d actually forgotten about at some point in my early 20s. But one that has now become real in my 30s – thanks to the unexpected course my life took through separation and single parenthood.
Professional BIO –
Soozi Baggs offers copywriting and communications consulting through her business, Zing Word Studio. The essence of the Zing brand is energy and freshness, which are concepts she’s also cultivating in her personal life from now on. One of her favourite things about her work at Zing is talking to clients and learning about them, their business, their ideal client, and their dreams for the future. And the actual writing part is fun too. Soozi is a Pisces who relies far too heavily on astrology predictions and her word for 2015 is HAPPY.