Self Esteem

I was reading Jenn’s post about why she’s not interested in dating and thought about my little social experience last weekend.

I didn’t want to date after my heart was broken. I had been abandoned, emotionally and physically, and I had way too much on my plate to add something as messy and scary as a man. As my life got more settled, predictable and reasonable, I still didn’t want to date. The fact that I had achieved a relative peace with my single mom status was a good feeling and I was afraid feeling would be obliterted if I tried dating.

But maybe the truth is, I really don’t know how to go about it.

Before I met Rooferman, I had very little dating experience. I was on my own path of self-destruction, and having a healthy relationship definitely wasn’t an ingredient in the pot (so to speak, heh). When he put that ring on my finger, I was shocked that someone actually wanted to be with me (probably one of the worst reasons to say to yes to a proposal).

Jenn said she wouldn’t want to date someone like her. I felt overwhelmingly saddened to hear this from such a fabulous mother, writer, spiritual grasshopper & general good person, but it struck a nerve with my own self image. Those words were coming out of my mouth less than 3 days ago.

Who would want to date a 27-year-old single mother?

I had to be confronted by 21-year-old dude to change my mind. Having this mantra repeated in your head for years can do some pretty crappy things to your ego. Jenn is right, having low-self esteem is defintely a turn-off for both men and women, and can get you into some pretty bad situations (insert 3/4 of my relationship with Rooferman).

For me, having negative self-thoughts also created a situation where I refused to find out if my thoughts were true or not. Mantra became fact: no one would want to date me, and that’s just how it was. I could get used to my life alone as long as there wasn’t any hope for me.

The funny thing about this “no hope” philosophy was I wasgetting more self esteem from other parts of my life. Honestly, being a single mom has been the best thing for my confidence level EVER. I was practically Obama’s cheerleader during his “Yes we can” speeches, because I really HAD done so much for myself and my daughter. I was totally feeling it.  I started facing my fears. I spoke in public about being a single mom. I went to court and got custody of my daughter. I refused to close my child support case. I confronted my daycare about something I felt was unjust.

So I’ve  implemented my “no hope” and “yes I can” themes together, creating a “Who cares of no one wants me, I’m still going to have fun and rock on” bumper sticker for my soul. That billboard was promptly ripped from my self-esteem last Friday.

Like Mama Cum Laude said, I didn’t want to be a single mom. There was no way I would have chosen this path. I was forced to face a life alone with a child, and maybe that happened for a reason. Maybe it happened so I could prove to myself how strong, confident, and amazing I really was.

I have to keep adjusting my mantra. Its gotten me this far. Its put me into situations where I  crashed, recovered, expanded and perhaps became a little enlightened. I experienced a little more, I got a little braver. I know if I keep on wading, I’ll get to the deep end eventually.

 Maybe I can add “desired” to the things I’ve found out about myself . Maybe we both will, Jenn.

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24 thoughts on “Self Esteem

  1. I don’t know, the reality is that most men don’t WANT single moms. Hard truth to face, but there it is. I haven’t read Jenn’s post, but that is my experience, both in my own life and in most single moms’ lives I know. I hope that if you do decide you want that, then you will find it, but me, meh, whatever. I am much stronger and better than I ever was when I was married, and there are lots of really great things about being single, but it still sucks. And I fail to see how that feeling translates into low self-esteem; I call it being a realist.

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    1. I totally thought this too. Maybe the 21-year-old just wanted to get LAID with a single mom, not actually BE with her, but just the interest was more than I thought possible.

      And I’m not saying you have low self esteem, I was describing how my own low self-esteem got me into my single mom situation, and how I’m trying to grow out of it.

      I heart you Kori AND your realism!

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  2. There is not too much that brings me to tears nowadays. Your post did. I felt as if you were peering into my innards, pulling my feelings out through my midsection and painting them in words.

    These two parts particulary resonated with me:

    I didn’t want to date after my heart was broken. I had been abandoned, emotionally and physically, and I had way too much on my plate to add something as messy and scary as a man. As my life got more settled, predictable and reasonable, I still didn’t want to date.

    For me, having negative self-thoughts also created a situation where I refused to find out if my thoughts were true or not. Mantra became fact: no one would want to date me, and that’s just how it was. I could get used to my life alone as long as there wasn’t any hope for me.

    I buried my precious daughter. I can not open myself up again.

    And I feel like damaged goods now. I wonder who would want my anyhow.

    Fuck…now I need a pill…

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  3. I think we put entirely too much weight in whether or not someone wants to be with us romantically.
    I wrote Kori an email a few months ago that I still keep to remind me. I’m making a choice. I’ve been around the block enough times to know that I can get laid anytime I want, that I could find a sugar daddy if I wanted. I don’t want those things. It took me a long time to recognize that I am indeed making a choice to not couple right now. Now that I know it, I fully embrace it.

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    1. When this guy demanded “don’t you want to be happy?”, I got so angry! I AM HAPPY DAMMIT! I don’t NEED a guy to be happy. Why was he assuming that because I wasn’t confirming my instantaneous love for him, I was refusing to be happy?

      Every time I react so strongly to a situation, I have to step back and wonder why. Thats what this post was trying to do.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom April! I heart you too!

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  4. I’d have to agree with Kori. I am also a much stronger and better version of myself than when I was married. Single parenthood will do that to you. Any guy that finds that a deterrant isn’t worth my time.

    I believe we were meant to find someone more deserving of us than the ones who made us single mothers in the first place and one way of knowing who they are is that they accept us as the single moms we are and love us for it.

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  5. Wow, awesome post Hanna! I can relate to this entire post, the past relationship, the insecurity and self esteem issues. The strength and resolve I have gotten from being a single mom and the fear of a relationship shattering my single life that I have grown to love. I believe that someday I might find the right person who loves, respects and takes me for me, and accepts me and my daughter as a package deal. You and all of us single moms deserve nothing less than that.

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  6. I can relate, too. Maybe due in part to the ex telling me repeatedly when I talked about leaving that “no one else would want you.” I believed him. Once I started seeing that the rest of the things he got me believing about myself were garbage, I questioned that one, too…and it’s NOT true! Everything I had to offer before, I still have! PLUS two. In my opinion, it’s a great way to weed out the unworthy. If a guy doesn’t share that outlook, I wouldn’t want him either.

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  7. Hi – I’m a new reader, but wanted to comment on this post because it reminds me SO much of how I felt for most of my 20s. Brief back-story: I became a single mom at 21, then get married a year later (not to my son’s father), had a second son & was separated again by the time I was 24. After all of that, I was pretty convinced that no one would give me a second glance again. And I wasn’t happy about it — not at all.

    I agree with Erin that the strength and resolve it takes to be a single parent and all that comes with it (often no small amount of relationship trauma) leaves us with something special. So many single moms (and dads) I know strike me in their phoenix-like qualities — these are people that have risen up from the ashes in a truly beautiful way.

    Once I realized that life was okay alone, that I could do it and be happy, I also started to realize that I could fall in love AND be loved in return. In fact, some people loved me BECAUSE of the qualities I’d developed as a single parent — and those are the people whose love was worth having. You are right when you say that it could happen. I’d place money on the probability that it will!

    About younger men: I am turning 34 this year. I have an almost 13-year old and a 10-year old. Two years ago, I fell in love with a younger guy (five years younger!), and — to my complete surprise — what started as a fling (in my mind, anyway) has matured into one of the most enduring and fulfilling relationships I’ve ever had. I gave up fairytail “forever” fantasies a long time ago, and I’m glad I did. But you never ever know what surprises life will land on your doorstep…

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  8. Awesome post. And I’m flattered to be the inspiration for it, even in a small way.

    I agree that being a single mom has given me so much self esteem. I know that goes against what I wrote, but it’s true. The thing is, my self esteem is for the things I know I can handle. I know I’m a good mom. I know I’m strong enough to survive and even thrive as a single parent. But when it comes to men, my self esteem goes out the window. Maybe that just means I’m not ready yet. It’s the unknown that scares me. But I think maybe, if the right guy comes along, I may get there. And if not, okay.

    “I have to keep adjusting my mantra. Its gotten me this far. Its put me into situations where I crashed, recovered, expanded and perhaps became a little enlightened. I experienced a little more, I got a little braver. I know if I keep on wading, I’ll get to the deep end eventually.”

    I feel the same way. The more I experience, the easier it gets. It’s all the analyzing that gets me. But if I didn’t do that, what would I blog about? 🙂

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  9. This is a great post girlfriend. You and Jenn are both inspiring. I seriously respect all of you single mamas more and more with each passing day. I’ve always thought were rockstars, but now you just confirmed it again.

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  10. You are wise and brave and courageous and daring and unique and beautiful and caring and a wonderful mother…among a few other things…who WOULDN”T want to date you! You are strong and clearly better off now then before…..you DO deserve everything your heart desires….

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  11. They ARE out there, as CaNook says. It’s just finding one that YOU want to be with, not that wants to be with you sweetie. You, everyday, do it all. Alone. You work, you support yourself and your daughter, you are super mom. And any man, ANY MAN that doesn’t see that?

    Is an assclown and doesn’t deserve you anyway. You know that’s how I look at it. 🙂

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  12. I definitely feel you girls.
    I felt that way after I got pregnant and I put up an emotional road block specifically so I wouldn’t have to find out if I was right or not.
    Luckily for me I had a great circle of guy friends that proved me wrong everyday — a lot of them dating single moms themselves. It helped a lot, just KNOWING that they were out there.
    It opened my heart up enough that eventually I let myself fall for someone who, luckily enough, felt the same way about me.
    I’m very happy — don’t get me wrong — but I still have that “single mom wound” and still have insecurities about whether anyone would want to be with me long term — even though I’m IN a serious and long term relationship.
    I think we move on, open up and grow from the people we were when we first became single parents but I don’t think it ever goes away.
    But that’s just part of who we are.
    Eventually one day I’m going to get married and add to my family but I’m still always going to be a single mom. That’s just how it is. It’s as much an emotional and spiritual state as it is a physical one.

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  13. For what it is worth, those guys who are interested in single moms are out there. After all, my dad met and married my mom when she already had two daughters. Another friend of mine was a single mom and is now living with her new boyfriend. It is difficult trying to get the dynamics down but they’re working on it together. Just remember that for us guys, figuring out one relationship with a woman is hard, trying to figure out a relationship with a woman and a kid has to be a lot harder. Be patient when you do land a good guy and realize he’s got a lot on his plate too.

    Also, you are definitely a catch and some guy is going to find out. Like what has already been said here, the strength you’re gaining as a single mom is working in your favor in all aspects of your life. That includes making you that much more attractive to good guys who can appreciate a strong woman in their lives instead of the rotten guys, like your ex, who pray on the weaker woman you [i]used[/i] to be.

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