There was a blue line on the plastic stick. That blue line that confirmed my worst fear. That shone a light on another fear that I hadn’t even acknowledged yet. That little blue line was going to change my life forever.
I was struggling to find a happy family dynamic that allowed me and my 12-year-old to live in peace. I was still struggling to come to terms with the death of my brother four years previously. I was working in a job I felt totally out of my depth in, but which paid well enough for me to keep showing up each day. I was in desperate need of mental health support and had been for years, but instead, I medicated with alcohol, cigarettes, and weed.
My self-esteem, my mental health, and even my sense of who I was were in tatters.
I was in a relationship with a man who I knew in my heart shouldn’t be in my life at all. But I was so desperate for someone to tell me they loved me, I had reached for the first one who offered.
He told me that I was beautiful, and he loved me. He couldn’t tell me one single thing he liked about me that wasn’t about my physical appearance. My intuition screamed at me to get out. My ego needed to be told I was beautiful. So I stayed.
He told me that he had been tested during a previous relationship, and knew beyond all doubt that he couldn’t have children. I believed him. Even though there was this little voice in my head that questioned everything he told me (oh, hello intuition!) Even though my friends all told me he was a liar.
My subconscious knew he was lying, that I was in a destructive relationship. But my ego believed him when he told me he loved me. And I also chose to believe that I wouldn’t get pregnant.
That blue line showed me the lie.
At 36 years old, five months into a new relationship, one that was already showing some pretty big cracks, I was pregnant. I was devastated. I didn’t want another baby. I could barely manage my life as it was. How could I go back to sleepless nights and potty training?
After a tear-filled conversation, I marched to the doctor’s surgery to “sort it out.” Arrangements were made, and I waited for my appointment. Then I got drunk. I took the week off work because I knew there was no way I could spend my days at a desk while trying to process everything.
As the appointment date approached, something shifted in me. I decided that I would keep the child.
A planned day of drinking with a friend got canceled, and for the first time since seeing that blue line, I spent the day sober and alone with my thoughts. A feeling of peace descended on me. I knew I was making the right choice. Worried that I had already caused terrible damage to this unborn child through two decades of hard drinking, I was able to stop immediately…at least in the short term.
The almost ten years since I made that decision have been tough. I returned to drinking as soon as I stopped breastfeeding. My relationship ultimately collapsed, as it needed to. In 2013, I experienced a breakdown, in part a result of that relationship and separation. Also partly due to the struggles I faced as a full-time working single mother of a teenager and a toddler.
That breakdown saved my life. As a direct result of falling apart, I found my way to yoga teacher training, where I found my salvation.
I know beyond any doubt that if I had not had to contend with parenting a toddler at that time, I would have managed everything else that was happening in my life. When I say “managed,” I do of course mean that I’d have got hammered and angry at the world until it all went away. Having that little boy showed me that I needed another solution.
I really do struggle with being the 46-year-old mother of a nine-year-old child. I struggle with the fact that I have to maintain a relationship with a man who caused me so much pain. I really struggle with challenges that arise in my son’s behavior, partly because I fear that so much of them are the result of damage that happened to him when he was young.
I don’t always like being a mother very much. I often think I am not very good at it. I frequently feel burdened and trapped.
But I know that this little boy came into my life as a gift. He shows me who I am constantly. He reminds me to be present to him and to my life. His presence in my life has saved me from myself time and again. And now, when I go to his bedroom to wake him up, as I am going to when I finish writing this, I will once again be filled with so much love and gratitude for him.
This wasn’t what I had planned for my life. It wasn’t what I thought I had wanted. But it was certainly what I needed. And I will always be profoundly grateful for that.