by Jevi Majid
In a world full of couples; whether happily married or not; do you have the courage to stand alone?
My name is Jevi. I am a 42-year-old mum to two daughters. I work a full-time job and I also had two part-time roles. Single parenting two teenage daughters whilst trying to remember who I am in the midst of the chaos.
That’s what it resembles sometimes. Chaos. Emotional chaos.
I also run. I run far and I run often. That’s been my escape. My escape from the chaos.
I’ll take you back to my upbringing. I was born and grew up in Oslo, Norway. Yes, that cold country in Scandinavia. Surrounded by a tight-knit family only to find my match in the UK. My ex-husband and I met at a mutual friend’s wedding in Norway. He liked me. Came to my mum for a proposal with his family whilst visiting from the UK and I, said yes. I was 20 years old. I had no idea where my life was heading. I was one of five sisters. And desperately wanted to escape the mundane life. I chose the UK. I chose him.
Fast forward 17 years and two kids, me and my ex-husband had grown apart in the beautiful home we had built together in Nottingham, England. There were no obvious reasons for divorce. Or as my mum exclaimed, if he didn’t hit me or cheat on me, what were my reasons for ending the marriage? I was unhappy and even after marriage counselling nothing changed for the better. This is also where I found my love for running. The sport I am most well known for. I ran ultramarathons and worked hard to get more diversity into running both in England and now in Norway. While struggling to decide how to proceed with my marriage; running helped me find my voice and became an outlet for the challenging emotions I was feeling.
My story is similar to the story of countless other women. The women who want to end marriages but hesitate due to the endless problems and responsibilities they’re left with after the divorce. The finances, the kids, the home, the wider family, the naysayers, the stigma it brings and having to do it all alone when you’ve spent so many years doing things as a couple.
Me and my ex-husband, who is a good dad, parted ways five years ago. In that time, I decided to move back to Norway where my family resided and what I regarded as my home. It was the hardest thing I had to do. From working a part-time job and sharing the girls’ responsibilities, I was suddenly single parenting two young kids whose mother language was English and who had their roots lifted to a different country. I also started working a rewarding but incredibly challenging role in a full-time position two weeks after I moved to Norway. Initially, we resided with my mum but that became difficult so I moved out to a rented flat. The kids started Norwegian schools and it was all an overwhelming process. The guilt of wrecking their childhood and taking them away from their home and their father slowly ate me up inside.
I can say this much; there is no wonder divorces are hard and something many women, especially from South Asian cultures hesitate to initiate. The added pressures and the taboo are the hardest brunt to bear.
When you’re in your forties, it’s not like you can pick and choose your next partner either. There is baggage and there is plenty of therapy needed to unpack the emotions and reflect on your decisions and mistakes to ensure you gain a better understanding of who you are.
The last five years have been the most brutal years of my life. But I have never regretted ending our marriage. For the mere fact that I didn’t want my children to think this was what love was supposed to look like. Instead, I try to show them that their mum works hard to meet their needs. With him living in another country, it also means I am 100% mum at all times, there’s no weeks off. I don’t get to socialize with friends or go on dates. My children, however, get to see a hard-working mum who works a full-time job, attends parent meetings, and doctors’ appointments, goes to the gym and goes for her runs as well as cooks homecooked meals and sets up playdates. But what they have started to see is that their mum is beyond exhausted. Tired of keeping up appearances like she can be both mum and dad.
So how does one look after themselves when faced with such challenges?
- Consider getting therapy or counselling to unpack what you have been through, to get help in coping with challenges better
- You have to prioritise yourself without feeling guilty. You are your own best friend so advocate for yourself
- Make time for physical activity every day. You don’t have to run or do a gym class. Go for a walk
- People will talk, let them. You are the only expert on your life so make decisions accordingly
- Try marriage counselling if things are rocky in your relationship
- Not every crass comment deserves a response. Look after your well-being by ignoring it and picking your battles
- The best battle is the one for yourself. Not with yourself. Improve. Dress well. Work out and take your vitamins
- Delegate where possible. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Single parenting is one of the hardest jobs out there
- Friends? The right ones will stay throughout and those who aren’t there when you’re struggling are the ones to let go
I don’t know what my future holds but what I do know is through my experiences, I have learnt, that divorces and single parenting are incredibly challenging processes. But they’re meant to be overcome. And more importantly; it’s better to be alone than to be somewhere where you don’t feel at home or happy.
Put yourself first. That’s what we are doing in 2024!